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Cancelled public media project cost almost $20m

Apr 05, 2023

The total cost of the aborted public media merger is being put at $19.6 million, almost 60 percent of which was spent on contractors and consultants.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage had about $44 million in total to spend on the transition, but the government pulled the plug in February.

Almost $12 million of the $19 million went on contractors and consultants, paid on average $6,000 a week.

About $2.6 million went on offices and overheads, and $3 million went to reimburse RNZ, TVNZ and New Zealand On Air for their work.

The Business Case Governance Group and the Establishment Board together cost almost $400,000 to run, including $16,000 spent on the board after the decision to halt the merger, so it could have a wrap-up meeting and "sign off" with the minister on 6 March.

The ministry said it would return the unspent $24.8 million to the government.

The government has said the spending was not wasted.

"Through consultation on a draft charter for public media we now have a much more informed view of what New Zealanders want from their public media and an example of modernised public media legislation," the ministry said on Wednesday.

It said it had to call on outside contractor help "to do the level of design, build and change needed to create a new public media entity", during both the earlier business case and establishment phases.

Consultants were engaged from January 2020 from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte, and others on research and evaluation, charter engagement and legal and financial services.

Main image (RNZ/Michelle Tiang)

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