With people heading to the voting booths this Saturday, we thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of the key aspects of the various parties' policies in relation to broadcasting and ICT.
National's policy continues along existing lines and includes the following objectives:
- Broadband: Rolling out the first stage of ultra-fast broadband to businesses, schools, health centres and other priority users and implementing the bulk of the Rural Broadband initiative
- 4G spectrum: Releasing the 4G spectrum to the market as soon as it is available
- Public broadcasting: Supporting public broadcasting through the competitive NZ on Air model, retaining public ownership of TVNZ, and maintaining funding for Radio New Zealand
- Digital switchover: Completing the switchover from analogue to digital television by November 2013.
Labour's policy focuses on the convergence of technology across the ICT and broadcasting sectors, suggests the implementation of a converged policy framework and includes the following objectives:
- Broadband: Conducting an independent review of the ultra-fast broadband rollout and changing the existing policy framework as it applies to urban and rural broadband, bringing forward the ultra-fast broadband roll out and extending the initiative to other areas of New Zealand
- 4G spectrum: Conducting a public discussion about the objectives and process for the auction of prime radio spectrum rights, and how the proceeds from the auction should be spent in New Zealand
- Copyright Act: Conducting a full review of the Copyright Act and repealing the provision allowing suspension of users accounts for infringing file sharing
- Open software focus: Instructing government agencies to implement a "whole of government approach" to open software and requiring departments to share their technology
- New regulator: Establishing a single regulator for broadcasting and telecommunications
- Public broadcasting: Introducing a new model for non-commercial public broadcasting to produce an "independent, free public broadcasting media service" with a new entity called the New Zealand Broadcasting Trust, to sit above the public broadcaster's board.
The Greens' ICT policy focuses on enhancing productivity and reducing resource use, and its broadcasting policy on creating a "strong, diverse and independent media". Policy objectives include:
- Free and open-source software: Promoting and implementing free and open-source software
- Public broadcasting: Establishing a new broadcasting body or commission to set rules relating to minimum local content quotas, digital convergence issues, cross-media and multi-media ownership, and to monitor and enforce those rules; and increasing funding for locally produced children's programming
- Broadcasting standards: Self-regulation of the industry, with safeguards and incentives to ensure that self-regulation is effective at controlling "negative content"
- Digital switchover: Renegotiating the analogue "switch off".
Proposals by the Māori party aim to ensure that Māori take a lead role in the "digital renaissance" and its policy objectives include the following:
- Spectrum: Seeking recognition that spectrum is a taonga and negotiating 33% (15MHz) of 4G spectrum and future allocations for Māori
- Māori programming: Maintaining funding for Māori programming and requiring broadcasters to increase Māori content in peak times
- Government email: Giving citizens with access to email the option of receiving their mail from government departments via email (and providing a subsidy on their internet connection bill).
Policy initiatives proposed by United Future include the following:
- Broadband: Developing a "realistic" timetable for extending broadband services into rural areas
- Broadcasting standards: Enabling the Broadcasting Standards Authority to fulfil its ombudsmen role and deal with complaints expeditiously by streamlining procedures and providing extra resources
- Public broadcasting: Supporting NZ on Air as a mechanism for encouraging local content, encouraging the development of a free public service channel, and maintaining Radio New Zealand in public ownership.
NZ First's policy objectives include the following:
- Copyright Act: Repealing the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011
- Industry regulation: Developing regulatory powers to "ensure fair competition" in the telecommunications market
- Public broadcasting: Combining TVNZ and Radio New Zealand into one state-owned enterprise, re-establishing TV One as a public service channel with limited advertising and running TV2 on a commercial basis to help fund TV One and Radio New Zealand, with dividends returned to the tax payer
- Broadcasting standards: Raising broadcasting standards, particularly in relation to violence, obscenities, and pornography.
Alliance's communications and broadcasting policy objectives include the following:
- Public broadcasting: Establishing a fully funded television channel, maintaining the funding for Māori Television and NZ on Air, and enacting legislation to restoring live free-to-air broadcasting of significant national sporting events and series
- Local content: Setting minimum quotas for local content of 30% for television and music radio, and placing more emphasis on locally produced children's programmes.
At the time of writing, ACT, Mana and the Conservative party have not published policies relating to broadcasting or ICT.