Finally, some good media news

TUESDAY COMMENTARY

The management buy-out of Stuff by its chief executive Sinead Boucher is welcome news. It ticks the boxes: New Zealander, broad industry experience, and sound strategic thinking.

Gone are the fears of foreign private equity buyers, languishing under the diffident control of an owner that did not want it, or closure in a macabre rerun of Bauer’s treatment of its New Zealand magazines. Continue reading “Finally, some good media news”

No benefits in foreign ownership

TUESDAY COMMENTARY

UPDATED

NZME’s failure to persuade the High Court that there was life left in its attempt to acquire Stuff has ended that bid but leaves a pall of uncertainty over our largest media company.

Nine Entertainment made soothing noises in the wake of Justice Katz’s refusal to grant an interim injunction extending NZME’s period of exclusivity. It issued a statement in which it stated it would “…continue to operate Stuff and work for the best outcome for our audience, our people and the wider business.”

The key phrase in that statement is ‘the wider business’. Nine has told everyone who will listen that it wants out of the New Zealand market and the withdrawal by NZME of its Commerce Commission application (an effective end to its bid) does not change that. What has changed is that we now have no idea who the suitors for Stuff might be. Continue reading “No benefits in foreign ownership”

Elusive ‘second package’ of media assistance

Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivered a budget with big numbers this afternoon but, for Covid-affected media organisations seeking assistance, it was decidedly small on detail about what would be spend to help them and where.

Last month, when Communications Minister Kris Faafoi announced a $50 million media assistance package overwhelmingly aimed at broadcasters, the prospect of a second package in the budget was held out to the industry.

“I want to be very clear,” he said, “that this first phase of support alone will not be sufficient to see the sector through a prolonged period of restrictions and reduced advertising.  A second package of support is being developed and will be submitted for the COVID-19 budget discussions in May.”

It may, indeed, have been submitted but there was no indication today what that ‘second package of support’ might be. This was all the finance minister said in his Budget speech on the topic: “Media industry assistance is being developed over coming months”. And, as I write this, I am still waiting for any amplification from Kris Faafoi. Continue reading “Elusive ‘second package’ of media assistance”

New respect for ‘the local rag’

TUESDAY COMMENTARY

Thousands will no longer refer to the community newspaper that appears in their letterbox as “the local rag”.

They have a new-found respect because they either realised what they had missed during the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown or were grateful that publishers had continued to supply local news in those challenging times.

When the Level 4 lockdown was declared, community newspapers (and magazines) were inexplicably omitted from news media deemed to be essential businesses. There seemed to be an outdated belief that community newspapers were only delivered by vulnerable children. Days after the ban, there was a partial loosening of the rule to allow publications in remote rural areas and ethnic communities. Many titles, however, could not print or could not make letterbox deliveries. Digital editions continued and local residents expressed their gratitude for continuing local coverage but, for many older readers, that was no compensation for the loss of the local newspaper. Continue reading “New respect for ‘the local rag’”