Standards and regulations

Regulatory Bodies

The Broadcasting Act 1989 and subsequent amendments governs the way television operates in New Zealand.

The Act’s primary focus is programme standards, the establishment of New Zealand On Air and regulation of election programmes. The environment is largely deregulated with no controls on overseas ownership of broadcasting and spectrum is distributed by auction through the sale of quasi property rights.

The principle agencies involved are:

NZ On Air
NZ On Air’s role is to help fund a range of locally-made programmes, and to ensure diversity on television and radio.

In particular, NZ On Air television funding is allocated to the production of ‘at risk’ categories such as drama and documentaries, and to programmes catering to the interests of women, children, persons with disabilities and minorities in the community, including ethnic minorities.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
The ASA aims to maintain a generally acceptable standard of advertising, and to ensure that advertising is not misleading or deceptive, either by statement or by implication. It promotes an effective system of voluntary self-regulation in respect to advertising standards. It also administers and funds the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.

The ASA has a membership of media and advertising organisations.

Ministry of Economic Development
The Ministry’s Radio Spectrum management division is responsible for the sale and management of spectrum. It operates under the Radiocommunications Act.

Ministry of Culture and Heritage
This Ministry provides policy advice to the Government on broadcasting issues and also supervises the BSA and NZOA.

Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA)
The Broadcasting Act 1989 requires broadcasters to maintain standards consistent with: the observance of good taste and decency, the maintenance of law and order, individual privacy, balance, fairness and accuracy, approved codes of broadcasting practice.

The BSA aims to maintain these standards through its approved detailed codes of broadcasting practice, and through a formal complaints process. The Codes of Practice aim to regulate: the protection of children, privacy, the portrayal of violence, fair and accurate programming, restrictions on the promotion of liquor, how programmes are classified, safeguards against discrimination.

Commercials Approvals Bureau
Established in 1989 as a self-regulatory initiative by the major television broadcasters, CAB provides a service independent of any particular broadcaster. Its key objective is to ensure participating television broadcasters maintain proper advertising standards.

Television broadcasters make it a condition that all advertisements are accepted and classified by CAB before they are supplied for broadcast. CAB decisions are guided by the relevant legislation, including the Broadcasting Act and the Fair Trading Act, and the Codes of Practice developed under the auspices of the statutory BSA, as well as the Advertising Codes of Practice produced by the ASA.

While in no way relieving broadcasters or advertisers of their legal responsibilities, CAB provides a reliable advisory service to the advertising industry and to television broadcasters. Its staff is aware of current interpretations of the Codes and statutes regarding advertising, and applies them consistently to scripts of proposed commercials and to completed advertisements.

Advertising Pre-Vetting Systems – LAPS and TAPS
The Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) is responsible for administering the advertising industry’s voluntary system of pre-vetting all liquor advertisements (LAPS). In 2000 a similar system was introduced for pre-vetting therapeutic advertising (TAPS).

Both systems require advertising for all liquor and therapeutic products to be vetted for compliance with the relevant codes and regulations before being approved for media placement. The first point of contact for advertisers requiring LAPS or TAPS services is to contact ANZA for further information.

Advertising to Children – A Socially Responsible Approach
All those involved in Television broadcasting recognize the need for a high level of social responsibility in communicating to children. No advertising or sponsorship is run in programming produced for pre-school children. In 2008 a new advertising classification was established. CF (Children’s Food) is applied during programming aimed at school age children, and limits the type of food advertisements that can run in these programmes. In addition, advertising in school age children’s programming is reduced to a maximum of 10 minutes per hour.

ThinkTV has produced a booklet “Advertising on Television – Getting it Right For Children” that explains these policies in more detail.  Download the booklet.

Click here to download a briefing on the impact of the CF Classification system.