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Merger of New Zealand’s TVNZ and RNZ scrapped

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced the cancellation of the planned merger of the country’s public broadcasters TVNZ and RNZ.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting in Auckland on 8 February, Mr Hipkins said work on the merger “will stop entirely”, RNZ News reports.

“Support for public media needs to be at a lower cost and without such significant structural change,” he said.

Instead, he announced that RNZ would receive an increase in funding of around NZ$10 million (US$6.3 million) a year to ensure it remained sustainable.

“There’s no question that the broadcast media landscape has changed significantly,” Mr Hipkins said.

“The private sector are experiencing that as well, so I think it is important that government looks to how we can best support making sure that there’s quality New Zealand content available to a wide range of audiences.

“I think there’s an easier way of doing that and ultimately that’s the decision that cabinet has supported today.”

The government announced the planned merger three years ago as a way to address declining audience numbers for radio and television.

It was opposed by commercial media organisations and independent production houses, who feared it would give the combined entity too much dominance.