Plan to tighten GST aims to collect from the likes of Netflix and iTunes.

New Zealand plans to impose new tax rules so overseas media companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple's iTunes have to pay Goods and Services Tax - just like local firms.

The proposed new rules may also aim to catch global media firms such as Google and Facebook, which do not collect GST on advertising sales here, though that aspect is not clear.

Being forced to pay GST would remove a price advantage the overseas companies have over local media and plug an ever-widening hole in government revenue.

Revenue Minister Todd McClay is expected to soon announce his intention to tighten GST rules.


There will have to be legislative amendments, so it won't happen overnight.

Asked for comment, McClay's office issued a statement.

"Last month, the minister asked officials to investigate how other jurisdictions were addressing the issue of collecting GST on services and intangibles and whether similar arrangements would be compatible with the New Zealand tax system.

"That report has now been received and its recommendations are being considered. This is primarily an issue of fairness to New Zealand businesses and consumers," it said.

The Government is not highlighting Netflix, the video-on-demand service with a growing profile in the local pay TV market. But its arrival in this country has highlighted the advantage global companies have over Kiwi businesses.

New Zealand has been working alongside other OECD nations on proposals to clamp down on the tax minimisation strategies of global firms such as Google and Facebook, and the Government is keen to adopt an internationally recognised approach. However there is increasing concern about the speed of development and delays in reaching an international agreement.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey recently signalled that his Government would be strengthening GST rules, to catch movie downloads and TV shows from overseas.

For consumers, the downside is that a GST crackdown might mean higher subscription charges, and potentially more costly ads. Google, for one, currently does not charge GST on ads.


Online car buyers

Researcher AC Nielsen says 750,000 New Zealanders plan to buy a car over the next year and 78 per cent of them go online to help make a purchase decision.

Trade Me is the most used website by prospective buyers, attracting 79 per cent of all online vehicle researchers, compared with Autotrader (33 per cent), Google (33 per cent) and Turners (32 per cent). Toyota (23 per cent), the AA (22 per cent), (12 per cent), (12 per cent), Nissan (12 per cent) and Mazda (11 per cent) round out the top 10 websites used.

Oh Henry

Viewers are slow to warm to Paul Henry's breakfast programme. Photo / Supplied
Viewers are slow to warm to Paul Henry's breakfast programme. Photo / Supplied

Mark Weldon may come to rue the day he gave his full backing to the Paul Henry breakfast programme.

In the ad world, feelings are mixed on whether MediaWorks can boost the ratings for the show, which is simulcast on TV3 and RadioLive from 6am to 9am weekdays. But it will be a big task, given that the huge and costly build-up to the show has led to an audience of less than 1 per cent of all potential viewers - a level that will not cover costs.

Meanwhile, it seems the show Weldon wants to dump - Campbell Live - is going through an unwanted resurgence.

MediaWorks says the real impact of Paul Henry is in radio, where it competes with fellow right-wing broadcaster Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB. It does seem as though ideology has got the better of Weldon.

We'll have to wait six months for the release of those figures.

MediaWorks has to make the show work, but it will have to become a bit less staid and dull.

Lorimer leaves for St John

MediaWorks group's head of corporate relations Rachel Lorimer has confirmed she is leaving the company to be head of communications for St John Ambulance.

Lorimer has been with the company for four years and said she had been happy working for the firm and with chief executive.

"I was never going to stay forever - I am not a lifer," said Lorimer, who leaves on June 19.

Lorimer is leaving the company amidst a new amongst tensions over the company review of Campbell Live leading to grass roots support from the show's fans.

Mediaworks owns TV3, Four and reaches half New Zealand's commercial radio audience.

There a slow start for the Paul Henry breakfast programme simulcast on TV and radio though Mediaworks insists the radio audience is good.

Lorimer is the latest in a long list of executives who have left the company after it emerged from receivership the past six months amidst a new regime headed by chief executive Mark Weldon and Julie Christie.

Among the staff who left at the end of last year were the company secretary Claire Bradley, head of television Paul Maher and the head of finance Peter Crossan.

Speculation is has been rife that Mediaworks is planning to create a new corporate relations role, but Lorimer said that was only rumour. Mediaworks was looking for a replacement, she said.

Women dominate top table

Women now outnumber men on the board of Television New Zealand. Meanwhile, MediaWorks director Julie Christie has been designing TV3's strategy, with a focus on reality shows.

On the face of it, women are playing a bigger role in the media business.

Yet some say the feminisation of the boardroom is not being matched on executive row.

Kelly Martin is on the board of Women In Film and Television, an organisation that promotes the interests of women in the sector, and says the push for more women on boards is a positive development.

As chief executive of the dominant TV drama producer South Pacific Pictures, she says it is important to get different perspectives on boards.

But it seems there are fewer women in senior management or directing roles than there were 10 years ago, she says.

MediaWorks' Christie is the exception that proves the rule. As well as being one of four directors, she also works as an executive at the company.

Different media companies have different approaches. At NZME., publisher of the Herald, women dominate the upper echelons of management and include chief executive Jane Hastings.

Board games

TVNZ chair Joan Withers. Photo / Greg Bowker
TVNZ chair Joan Withers. Photo / Greg Bowker

TVNZ chairwoman Joan Withers believes it may be the first major company in New Zealand with a majority of female board members.

Withers was a longtime deputy at TVNZ, and replaced Wayne Walden when he stood down this year. She is well schooled in media, having been chief executive of the radio assets that became The Radio Network.

She has also been with two Government entities that have been part privatised - RNZ commercial and Mighty River Power.

Withers was chief executive of Fairfax New Zealand during the David Kirk era and on the board of Fairfax in Sydney. As TVNZ boss, she is likely to be more active than her predecessor.

Therese Walsh was made deputy chairwoman after three years on the TVNZ board. Other female board members include Alison Gerry and Julia Raue. But the female majority came last month when the Government appointed former MediaWorks chief executive Sussan Turner to the board.

Turner brings a background in retail advertising sales, at a time when retail advertising is becoming more important.

Beehive sources said her appointment was pushed by Cabinet minister Steven Joyce, and she was even suggested for the board of Radio NZ. Joyce is Turner's long-time friend, going back to the days when Turner ran Radio Otago and Joyce owned MediaWorks in a previous incarnation.

Turner has also been appointed to the council of Auckland University of Technology.

Turner - who was a protege of Brent Impey - won credit for running MediaWorks during the debt-encrusted days of its former owners, Ironbridge Capital. She was ousted by new investors led by chairman Rod McGeoch, who appointed Mark Weldon in her place.