Since 1989 NZ On Air has measured local free-to-air television content. The Local Content Report compares the schedules of the six national free-to-air channels to observe trends and changes in the local content landscape. The report used the Listener programme schedule and then measures the amount of time local content is broadcast. Some highlights from this 2006 report are that 10,255 hours of local content screened, 43.3% of prime time hours were local content, and TV One screened the most local content.
For the main free-to-air channels, data from the Listener programme billings is recorded onto an Access database. Scheduling changes by the television networks after Listener publication are generally not included; nor are unlisted programmes such as short filler programmes included.
Programmes have, in most cases, been counted according to the amount of New Zealand content within the programme. For example, series such as 20/20 which averages two overseas stories and one New Zealand-produced story per episode, have been recorded as containing one-third of an hour of New Zealand content (two thirds in the case of 60 Minutes). There is a degree of arbitrariness to such allocations, but the emphasis is on consistency so trends can be observed.
Sports programmes are the chief example of programmes which fluctuate significantly, and the New Zealand content is not always published in detail in advance. The only accurate way of measuring New Zealand content is by timing each week’s programmes as they go to air, which is not a practicable exercise for NZ On Air. Therefore, all sports content included within New Zealand-produced branded programmes has been counted as a New Zealand programme. For sports matches not featuring a New Zealand team, but which include a New Zealand commentator “topping and tailing” the broadcast, an allowance is made for the presenter links only.
If a programme straddles prime time and off-peak, it is counted as prime time if the majority of the programme screens in prime time. For example, if a programme begins screening at 9.15pm and concludes at 10.15pm, it is counted as one hour of prime time.
In general, programmes are counted as whole hours or half hours irrespective of the differing durations often encountered. For example, a programme may actually have a duration of 22 minutes or 24 minutes or 29 minutes, depending on advertising and promotion break durations, but is counted as a full half-hour for simplicity.
“First-run” programmes mean programmes which are appearing on a free-to-air national network for the first time. If a programme screened on C4 first, and was then repeated on TV3, the latter screenings are counted as a repeat. Previous screenings on pay television are not counted.
New Zealand content is classified as material which is both predominantly made in New Zealand and which reflects New Zealand identity and culture. Thus programmes which are made in New Zealand but which have no New Zealand flavour are not counted. Neither are programmes about New Zealand but made for foreign television channels.
Programme hours are divided into nine genre categories. The categories are:
This category contains all New Zealand-made Drama and Comedy, other than Drama made for children. Comedy is classified as Drama, not Entertainment when it is scripted and acted in accordance with usual Drama production techniques (examples include Outrageous Fortune and Seven Periods With Mr Gormsby).
This category includes all programmes packaged and produced in New Zealand. This is the only category which can contain a high level of overseas content and still be classified as a New Zealand programme. See paragraph 3 above.
News and Current Affairs
This comprises all New Zealand-produced News and Current Affairs programmes. One-off advertised events are included, but special bulletins which have not been advertised are excluded. For programmes which are a mixture of New Zealand and overseas material, such as 20/20, only the New Zealand portion is counted.
This category includes game shows, music programmes (from classical to rock), quizzes and competitions such as NZ Idol and Dancing with the Stars, broad competitive formats such as Mitre 10 Dream Home, and Top of the Class plus light entertainment shows.
Programmes which use New Zealand presenters to provide links between cartoons and other overseas material, or which have a minority of New Zealand content such as Squirt, are classified by the amount of New Zealand content only. Programmes which contain some overseas content but have a majority of New Zealand content, such as What Now?, are fully classified as New Zealand programmes.
When this survey commenced, a larger amount of Children’s Drama was being produced. This situation fluctuates so the category has been retained for consistency.
This category comprises programming made specifically for a Māori audience, such as Marae, Waka Huia and Te Karere.
This category generally comprises one-off documentaries or series in a non-magazine format.
This category comprises a wide range of programme types, generally with a magazine format and/or an information flavour, as opposed to an entertainment or competitive one. Examples include series such as Frontseat; religious series such as Praise Be; leisure and lifestyle series such as House & Garden; and special interest series such as Attitude.
Within each category, and by channel, programmes can be further analysed, depending on whether they are:
- prime time (first-run programming screening between 6pm - 10pm)
- offpeak (first-run programming screening any time outside prime time)
- repeat (repeated programming screening both in prime time and offpeak).
This report also provides information on local content totals under the four main genre groupings that are the focus of the Television Local Content Group, which are:
- Drama / Comedy (including Children’s Drama)
- Documentary, Information, Entertainment, Māori
- News, Current Affairs and Sports
Hours are measured and reported on an 18-hour clock (as introduced in the 2003 report).
Total broadcast hours in this survey were 6570 (18 hours per day). Broadcast hours fro MTS and C4 were 3111 hours and 4472 hours respectively.
- Local content on the main channels has been relatively stable in recent years. As the broadcast market continues to expand, growth in local content is coming from new channels.
- The addition of MTS and C4 to the survey means that total local content measured in 2006 increased by 3229 hours to 10,255 hours, compared with 2005 (7026 hours).
- Excluding MTS and C4, total local content hours were 6924 (7026 in 2005). Local content on TV One, TV2 and TV3 was 6061 hours (6455 in 2005).
- Local content accounted for 30.3% of the 6am to midnight broadcast hours in 2006. Excluding MTS and C4 the percentage is 26% compared with 26.7% in 2005.
- Total first-run local content hours increased by 2201 hours, from 5698 in 2005 to 7899 in 2006. Excluding MTS and C4, the total first-run local content on New Zealand screens totalled 5850 - an increase of 152 hours when compared to 2005.
- Prime time local content increased from 2070 hours in 2005 to 3797 in 2006, explained by the inclusion of MTS and C4. Excluding these channels, prime time local content totalled 2034 hours - a decline of 36 hours when compared to 2005.