'Outdated' election address broadcast obligation scrapped

10:48 am on 20 October 2016

TVNZ and RNZ will no longer have to give political parties free air time for opening and closing election statements.

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Photo: 123rf

At present the broadcasters have to give parties two hours of time for election broadcasts.

But Justice and Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams said that did not reflect the modern media market.

She said the addresses were in an outdated format and declining audience numbers show they were not engaging voters. TVNZ's audience numbers for the 2014 opening addresses, for example, were down by 25 percent.

Ms Adams said the Justice and Electoral Select Committee recommended reform of the opening and closing addresses in its inquiry into the 2014 general election and the change had been welcomed by the broadcasters.

Legislation updating the format of election broadcasts will be introduced to Parliament next week.

Political parties will receive an extra $750,000 to make up for the lost television and radio time, bring the election advertising budget to $3.6 million.

"Parties will continue to be able to spend their own money on online advertising while funding for television and radio advertising remains limited to the funding allocated by the Electoral Commission", said Ms Adams.

She said she hoped the changes would engage more voters in the electoral process.