Press freedom threatened by business imperatives
The press is free in New Zealand but its independence and pluralism are often undermined by the profit imperatives of media groups trying to cut costs. Concern was voiced about the editorial integrity of New Zealand’s leading news portal, Stuff, after the Australian entertainment giant Nine Television Network took over its owner, Fairfax Media. Stuff was forced to close a third of the sites it hosted and major budget cuts were imposed on 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. The Commerce Commission had already rejected the proposed merger of NZME and Fairfax one year earlier. On the legislative side, journalists continue to demand changes to the Official Information Act, which obstructs the work of journalists by allowing government agencies long periods of time to respond to information requests and allows them to demand hundreds of dollars in exchange for the information. The new government led by Jacinda Ardern disappointed journalists in May 2018 when it said it had no plans to amend the OIA.
8 in 2018
13.62 in 2018