NZ publishers win partial reprieve, after ruling shut down community papers

New Zealand news media companies have gained a reprieve after a sudden and unexpected ban had shut down all but paid daily newspapers.

A ruling which outlawed all but paid daily newspapers has been reversed after industry group PrintNZ and the opposition National party were among those opposing the Friday announcement. General manager of PrintNZ Ruth Cobb told GXpress on Tuesday afternoon the government had given approval for community papers that fit certain criteria.

"We are still waiting to find out what those criteria are," she said.

Regions such as Whakatane, Nelson and Marlborough - where community newspapers are published three or four times times weekly, not daily - were among those hit by the directive.

Ruth Cobb said Friday's decision came without consultation. "Dailies don't reach all regions of NZ, and are also subscription-based, so you are essentially leaving a large chunk of NZ without printed news."

More than 1.2 million community newspapers are delivered each week in New Zealand, and play a valuable role in disseminating both local and national information. Cobb says the ruling would leave some communities ­- such as Whakatane, Nelson and Marlborough - without any printed papers.

Also, curiously, the ruling banned - and still bans - magazines, which are distributed through channels which are still operating - such as NZ Post and supermarkets - "so the stopping of them makes little sense," she said.

"Vulnerable people in the community would have been left without news - the elderly, lower socio-economic households and those who rely on foreign language papers. At a time when communication is of paramount importance, it seems counter-productive to reduce the channels of communication, particularly print channels which we know are well read.

"Likewise we will continue to monitor changes to the 'essential services' list to ensure all our members are operating within approved parameters."

National Party economic development and small business spokesperson Todd McClay also called for the ruling to be reversed.

Pictured: Privately-owned Beacon Media in Whakatāne is waiting to install a new press it bought only last year

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