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New Zealand Government Convergence Programme

Convergence describes the reduction in barriers between sectors, so that businesses have new opportunities and consumers benefit from greater choice and accessibility.

In August 2015, a discussion paper Exploring Digital Convergence : issues for policy and legislation was launched to consider the impact of convergence between the telecommunications, information technology, media and entertainment sectors in New Zealand. It highlights the government’s cross departmental convergence work programme which aims to create a level playing field for content and information, regardless of what type of technology delivers it. Submissions on the discussion paper closed in October 2015 with 48 submissions received. 43 submissions are published here. Five submitters requested their submission remain confidential and these have not been published.

Submissions on a related discussion paper Content Regulation in a Converged World also closed in October 2015. The Ministry received 50 submissions in response to the discussion paper. The submissions can be viewed here.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage intends to approach key stakeholders after the 2017 General Election to consult them on detailed proposals relating to the Digital Convergence Bill.

This follows the Government’s announcement in August 2016 that it would use the Digital Convergence Bill to:

  • extend the Broadcasting Act 1989 to ensure all provider-selected online content, excluding news and current affairs, meets classification and content standards. This extension will provide consistency in how this on-line and broadcast content – which is often the same or of similar nature – is classified and subject to complaints.
  • provide all television broadcasters with the right to include advertising in Sunday morning broadcasts of events of major significance. Besides the broadcast of these events, the current advertising restrictions on Sunday mornings and some public holidays will remain. These restrictions create non-commercial programming space, well suited to screening special interest programmes.
  • clarify some of the rules for election programmes, to come into effect in time for the 2020 General Election. These changes will be in addition to changes through the Electoral Amendment Act and the Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Act that will help make the 2017 election process more efficient and fit for purpose.

The Government is also considering whether other improvements can be made to the system, for example whether classification labels can be standardised across mediums such as television, film and games.

Updates to content regulation form part of the Government’s wider digital convergence work programme. This work programme considers the impact of convergence and its implications on a range of associated work.

This work programme considers the impact of convergence and its implications on a range of associated work, including the work detailed below.

Review of the Copyright Act 1994

In June 2017 the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs released a terms of reference to launch a review of the Copyright Act 1994. The first stage of the review will be to identify and test issues with our copyright regime. This is important in the context of a rapidly changing technological environment which is impacting the way we create, distribute and consume content. Insights into this environment were highlighted in the Government’s Study of the role of copyright and designs in the creative sector, completed in December last year with the release of a report, Copyright and the Creative Sector.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will start preparing an issues paper, which is likely to be released for public consultation in early 2018.  More information is available on MBIE’s website.

Review of the regulatory framework for telecommunications

A review of the Telecommunications Act 2001 is progressing to ensure New Zealand has the right laws for communications networks after 2020, to meet the needs of consumers and businesses, and to help keep our economy growing.

An Options Paper was released in early July 2016, seeking feedback on more detailed implementation and design proposals for the post-2020 regulatory regime, with submissions received.

On 10 February 2017, the Government released a consultation paper which outlines the core policy settings and proposed approach to regulating UFB fibre. Feedback was sought on the proposed approach for the regulation of the copper and fibre networks in February 2017. The Government is now considering this feedback.

Radiocommunications Act Review

Consultation on the Radiocommunications Act has been conducted which showed that there is a general level of comfort with the existing legislative framework but there are some points of details which can be improved. MBIE have worked with industry on these issues in more detail. The Telecommunications Act review consultation (as above) also included questions relating to competition aspects of radiocommunications and the enforcement of undertakings.

Implementation of the Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan

The Cyber Security Strategy, accompanying Action Plan and the National Plan to Address Cybercrime were launched in December 2015 and are available to view on the Connect Smart website. A national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), a major initiative in the Strategy, was launched on 11 April 2017. Other initiatives include:

  • the development of a cyber credentials scheme for small businesses;
  • establishment of a public-private taskforce to stimulate initiatives to build a cyber security professional workforce;
  • expanding Connect Smart cyber security capability activities; and
  • improving capability to address cybercrime; and
  • engaging with other countries on norms for responsible state behaviour online and cyber security best practice. 

The first annual report on the Strategy’s Action Plan was released in March 2017.

Review of the applicability of GST to crossborder services and intangibles

The Taxation (Residential Land Withholding Tax, GST on Online Services, and Student Loans) Act was enacted in May 2016. The amendments in the Act apply GST to cross-border services and intangibles supplied by offshore suppliers (including e-books, music, videos and software purchased from offshore websites) to New Zealand-resident consumers, by requiring the offshore supplier to register and return GST on these supplies. The amendments follow proposals outlined in the discussion document GST: Cross-border services, intangibles, and goods released in August 2015.

Data Futures Partnership

Ministers appointed this independent Advisory Group in October 2015 to give an outside-in perspective on data, and to drive activities that demonstrate the value of data-use. The Partnership’s working group, Chaired by Dame Diane Robertson, has invested in a set of catalyst data-use projects that address real-world problems and create system learning. In recent months the Partnership has engaged with a broad cross-section of New Zealanders to understand people’s comfort for data use and sharing once the possible benefits and risks are explored. The results of this engagement are being used to draft social licence guidelines designed to help organisations build and maintain the trust and confidence of this whose data they wish to use. More information about this work can be found on the Partnership’s website.


Updated on 9th November 2017