Mediaweek New Zealand: News

Mediaweek’s NZ writer John Drinnan rounds up the media news in the NZ market

Netflix gets special rating

The New Zealand Film and Literature Classification Office created a new classification for people aged under 18 watching the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why – they need to watch with a parent or guardian. The censor created the new RP18 classification saying the globally distributed show, about a teen explaining the reason why she committed suicide, did not follow guidelines for responsible depictions of suicide. New Zealand has the highest teen suicide rates among the 35 countries in the OECD, and the censor said that was part of the reason for the classification. It is not clear though whether the classification will have any impact on under 18-year-olds seeking out a parent or guardian to watch the Netflix show with them.

Another merger decision delay

The Commerce Commission was set to announce its delayed final decision on the NZME-Fairfax merger next Tuesday. But media organisations will have to wait an extra day to receive a decision from the commission.

The commission was expected to report on its decision on Tuesday May 2, but today it announced the decision will be delivered Wednesday May 3.

Media industry observers are stumped whether the several delays will lead to the regulator overturning its draft decision made in November, when it made harsh criticism about the merger reducing the number of voices in the media. The combined media company would have a virtual monopoly in newspapers, and dominate online news through the and Stuff.

Meanwhile, Sky TV and Vodafone have appealed a ComCom decision on February 22 that rejected a merger of the telco and pay TV company, due to its impact on the wholesale programming market. The terms for the Voda-Sky appeal and the date for the hearing have not been specified.

Kiwis adopt ad blocking

Global Web index unveiled research showing New Zealand internet users are among the most enthusiastic users of ad blocking software. According to GWI, 44% are blocking ads on their main computer, putting them 25% ahead of the global average, making New Zealand second in the world behind Poland. The New Zealand uptake for ad blockers on mobiles is low, but GWI forecasts significant changes are likely soon.

Broadcast tension

Tensions are growing between state-owned broadcasters Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand. TVNZ declined to pick up an acclaimed historical video series made by RNZ called the 9th Floor which interviews all living former NZ prime ministers and has been offered free to other media and used widely by the private sector media. Rejection of the offer, even for TVNZ On Demand, illustrates ill feelings, RNZ sources say. The government has implemented an eight-year funding freeze on RNZ and giving away content free to all comers. Meanwhile, the government has entrenched TVNZ in its commercial focus. The tensions are more apparent now in the run-up to a general election in September, with TVNZ planning big staff cuts including journalists. The National government is said to be considering the merger of the disparate state broadcasters, an approach that many believe would boost TVNZ and hurt RNZ.

Netflix over the top

Roy Morgan Research reports that Netflix had broken the threshold of one million users in New Zealand and Lightbox had doubled its numbers since 2015.

In its latest research, one in 10 New Zealanders have two or more of the TV services in their home.

By the close of 2016, an estimated 1,066,000 New Zealanders aged over 14 had access to Netflix through a subscription in their homes, a 56% increase on the 684,000 at the close of 2015. During the same period, Lightbox grew from 285,000 to 630,000 users, though this was due to an extension in the deal where Lightbox is offered free with broadband deals from its owner, the telco, Spark.

According to Roy Morgan, of those Netflix and Lightbox users, 337,000 have both SVOD services, which is an increase from the 108,000 to both at the close of 2015.

New Zealand’s other two SVOD services, Neon and Quickflix, only reached 127,000 New Zealanders between them at the close of 2016, Roy Morgan reports.

Air New Zealand best communicator

Air New Zealand’s communications team has been named Communications Team of the Year at the Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards announced recently. The airline was a finalist in three categories, Campaign of the Year for its Better Way to Fly campaign encouraging Australians to travel Air New Zealand to North and South America, the Travel and Tourism award for the same campaign and Communications Team of the Year.

Last month the airline took the number one position in the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index for the third year in a row.

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