Different strokes for different folk: Regulatory distinctions in New Zealand media
For much of the past century there was broad acceptance of the stark contrast between the state’s involvement in the regulation of the content of broadcasting and its laissez-faire relationship with the columns of the press. The ‘failed market’ argument that substantiated regulation of the airwaves was difficult to counter. Fundamental changes in technology and media markets have, however, rendered the rationale open to challenge. Some aspects of the ‘failed market’, such as frequency scarcity, simply do not apply in the digital age. This article examines the nature of media regulation in New Zealand, noting its similarity to the dichotomous approach in Britain, Canada and Australia but also its divergence toward a more neoliberal market model that largely limits statutory oversight to matters that fall broadly into the categories of morals and ethics. It argues that, given the New Zealand government’s decision more than 15 years ago to forego regulation of ownership or the mechanisms that would serve the public good aspirations of a Reithian model, the continuing role of the state in regulation of broadcasting is questionable. A replacement model could be based on an effective regulatory body already present in the New Zealand media industry—the Advertising Standards Authority
Copyright (c) 2005 Gavin Ellis
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