Are Podcasts Subject To The New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Act?

No, no they are not ... not yet at least.

How do we know that, because we asked the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), this is what they had to say:

 
The Broadcasting Standards Authority does not currently have jurisdiction over podcast content provided on the internet. The BSA is currently responsible for television and radio broadcasts (and will consider complaints about broadcast content that is subsequently made available online by the broadcaster). So while you may choose for the podcasts you produce to meet the standards in the Codes which have been developed by BSA and broadcasters, for example, broadcasting standards for radio content (contained in the attached Codebook [here]), Access Granted would not be subject to the requirements of the Broadcasting Act 1989 or to the formal complaints process (provided podcasts were not broadcast on TV or radio).

So, unless we start broadcasting via TV or radio (highly unlikely) we are fine and dandy ... but hang on, what's this ...

 
It was announced in August 2016 that the BSA’s jurisdiction would be extended to cover certain online/on-demand content, excluding news and current affairs and user-generated content. The detail and proposed changes to the Broadcasting Act are still being worked through by policy officials, and the inclusion of online podcast content in the BSA’s expanded remit is likely to be under consideration. 
If you would like further information about the reform process, we suggest you contact the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Information about the reforms are here and here.

From which we learn firstly on the Ministry of Culture and Heritage site :

 
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage (the Ministry) intends to approach key stakeholders in July/August 2017 to discuss detailed proposals relating to the Digital Convergence Bill.
The Bill is scheduled to have its First Reading and be referred to Select Committee by the end of 2017. It will update the Broadcasting Act 1989.

And the second link to the Convergence Discussion site, has this:

 
The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage intends to approach key stakeholders in July/August 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.
  • [more things not relevant to podcasting ...]

A Ministry for Culture and Heritage discussion document (and therefore NOT the final advice) says that changes to the Act are likely to cover podcasts IF:

 
  • Professionally produced
  • Not news and current affairs.

We're not quite sure what "professionally produced" means but we assume it's about payment for services and not a discussion on quality.

Where to from here ... it's too late to make a submission but for all Kiwi podcasters I would suggest you get yourself onto the Convergence mailing list to keep uptodate - start by sending an email to Convergence@mch.govt.nz. And maybe check out the Broadcasting Act just to see what it all could mean to you as a Kiwi podcaster.

Many thanks to staff at Internet NZ for the heads-up and the BSA for their most useful responses.


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