Winston Peters' icy relationship history with the media made him an unlikely talking head for today's announcement on the future of the industry.
Many who tuned into the press conference would at first have wondered why a man who as recently as last month accused the media of propagating "fake news" in response to revelations about NZ First donations would be fronting this issue.
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Yet, in many ways, Peters was the perfect person to show the Government is serious about ensuring the media doesn't wither and die.
NZ First's approval ultimately matters more than that of either Labour or the Greens. Their positions have been clear on these matters for some time. They have made no secret of their intentions to invest in the media.
The problem, however, was that their ability to act would have always been incumbent on support from Peters and his party.
NZ First generally keeps its cards close to its chest and tends to swing both left or right, depending on the issue at hand. And given Peters' relationship with the media, there were certainly some concerns that he wouldn't exactly be supportive of efforts to sustain the media.
He is, after all, the man who recently released a Twitter video saying "If mainstream media won't do their job then we will go direct."
No more fake news. If main stream media won’t do their job then we will go direct. pic.twitter.com/Q4mphmefpu— Winston Peters (@winstonpeters) November 21, 2019
In a classic display of his infamous wit, Peters was even able to twist what he perceives as slights on his character into a justification for supporting an improved media landscape. As an ostensible victim of the media's "dire straits", he argued that he knows better than most why it's important for media to not only survive but improve its effectiveness.
"As one who has experienced the ravages of journalism, sometimes you have to accept criticism goes with the territory," he said.
"If [Nelson] Mandela can walk out of Robben Island after 27 years and forgive his oppressors, so can I."
This is all on-brand for Peters. As is the fact that he's supporting something that remains incredibly valuable to the regions. If the major news publishers were to bleed more journalists this would leave some major gaps in the stories coming from all stretches of New Zealand. The loss of this plurality of voices would be felt directly by anyone who has relied on those journalists to tell their stories. This matters broadly to all New Zealanders, but especially to the people who vote for Peters and his party.
It was widely expected that Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi would be the one to make the announcement on the plans for the media, but Peters cleverly side-stepped this issue by saying he was talking on behalf of his party rather than the Government.
Faafoi has been lying low of late as he weathers a storm related to allegations of offering to lend assistance to friend and Opshop singer Jason Kerrison with an immigration case.
Faafoi has since apologised for the misstep, calling it "untidy and dumb", but his wounds are still raw and he would've made an easy target for opposition parties.
Another interesting announcement made by Peters was that he was open to the idea of Stuff and NZME joining forces to ensure journalism jobs were protected, but he added the caveat that it would have to pass through the Commerce Commission first.
This means things are still not a done deal. New Zealand's courts twice rejected the attempts by the media companies to merge on account of the interpretation of the Commerce Act.
Both the Court of Appeal and the High Court agreed at the time on the interpretation of the law, finding that a merger would concentrate media ownership and diminish the plurality of journalistic voices in the industry.
As the law currently stands, it seems likely that the same arguments could stand if the matter appeared before the courts again.
The question then is whether the Government might consider tweaking the legislation to allow for more weight to be put on the commercial aspect of the debate. With most politicians agreeing that something has to be done about the state of the media, this would definitely be possible. That said, perhaps the KiwiShare scheme could be enough to get it across the line.
That's certainly the narrative NZME chief executive Michael Boggs presented in saying that this model would ensure that media companies have "the maximum number of journalists producing" content across the country. This is a direct argument in favour of continued media plurality.
"We certainly see KiwiShare as a long-term commitment and it will be regularly reviewed based on market circumstances," Boggs said.
There are still many questions lingering over the future of New Zealand media. What will happen to RNZ and TVNZ? How much more money will go into media? Will legislation change? Can we expect both Sunday papers to remain in the event of a merger? And what will be done to keep the likes of Google and Facebook in check?
The only thing that seems clear at this stage is that the landscape is set to look quite different in 2020.