Press freedom threatened by business imperatives
The press is free in New Zealand but its independence and pluralism are often undermined by the profit imperative of media groups trying to cut costs to the detriment of good journalism. Concern was voiced about the editorial integrity at New Zealand’s leading news portal Stuff after its owner, Fairfax Media, was taken over by the Australian entertainment giant Nine Television Network in July 2018. Stuff was forced to close a third of the sites it hosted and major budget cuts were imposed on all the local media outlets it owns.
The situation could have been even worse if the Commerce Commission had not blocked another proposed merger between Stuff and New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME), which owns the country’s leading daily, the New Zealand Herald. In an earlier sign of the dangers posed by the race towards ever greater concentration, the Commerce Commission had already rejected the proposed merger of NZME and Fairfax one year before. As a result of this high level of media concentration, only small online publications have managed to provide fully independent reporting and viewpoints. On the legislative side, journalists continue to demand changes to the Official Information Act, which obstructs the work of journalists by allowing government agencies to take a long time to respond to information requests and even allows them to demand hundreds of dollars for the information provided.
7 in 2019
10.75 in 2019