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Copyright © Media Law International 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice


The digital industry has received government backing with new initiatives and educational reforms as part of plans for business and wider economic growth.

In a report released in March 2017, titled The Business Growth Agenda: Building a Digital Nation, the Minister for Communications and the Minister for Economic Development highlight the importance of ‘Harnessing the digital revolution’.

The report also states: ‘The aim of the Programme is to ensure that we are focusing on the right areas to enable New Zealand to become a leading

Digital Nation.’

Other developments include the significant changes in media ownership and management. According to a report titled New Zealand Media Ownership Report 2016, ‘For the first time in six years, New Zealand media companies are exclusively owned by financial institutions.’

The report continues: ‘Media moguls and News Corp have sold all their shares in New Zealand media companies. The report also finds that the board structures of New Zealand media corporates favour further consolidation.’

In February 2017 the Commerce Commission declined clearance for the merger between Sky and Vodafone, taking into account the impact of the

merger overtime on the broadband and mobile telecoms markets.

As part of the agreement, Vodafone sought clearance to acquire up to 51 per cent of

shares in Sky while Sky sought clearance to acquire up to 100 per cent of the assets and shares of Vodafone.

The report stated: ‘The proposed merger would have created a strong vertically integrated pay-TV and full service telecommunications provider in New Zealand owning all premium sports content.’

In November last year, the Commerce Commission declined its preliminary merger approval between Fairfax and NZME as the merger would give the combined company too much editorial and commercial power in print and on digital platforms.

Mark Berry, Chairman of the Commission, said the merger would result in one media organisation controlling almost 90 per cent of New Zealand’s print media market, giving the country the second highest concentration of print media ownership in the world, behind only China.


Media law specialist Bell Gully represents clients across print and broadcast sectors advising on defamation, intellectual property and mergers and acquisitions. The media and entertainment practice advises on film and television, representing international film production companies on a full range of legal issues arising from their New Zealand-based productions, including tax and fiscal incentives. Alan Ringwood is the firm’s leading lawyer specialising in defamation law, commercial litigation and dispute resolution.  

Buddle Findlay’s team works with private and public sectors clients on television and film production, radio and print media. Lawyers regularly advise on licensing, format, distribution, and output deals for programmes. Representative work includes assistance to Sky on programming deals for pay television including significant deals with ESPN, Fox Studios, Disney and MGM.

Chapman Tripp is visible across a range of cases, working with publishers and broadcasters on advertising and audio-visual matters. In highlighted work the TMT group assisted Spark with the establishment of its video-on-demand initiatives. Lawyers also represented ACP Media Limited in High Court defamation proceedings brought against its North & South publication. Other work involves assistance with co-production funding and production agreements.


Boutique firm Hudson Gavin Martin specialises in corporate and commercial aspects of media, intellectual property and technology. Litigation solicitor Simon Martin works with the team on cases of joint ventures, technology licensing and acquisitions. Lawyers have extensive experience in negotiating media contracts for franchising, sponsorship, licensing of content and the appearance of celebrities in videos, films and events.

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts focusses on film and entertainment. Lawyers advise on financing productions, content distribution and regulatory challenges. Working with domestic and international clients, the team assists with various stages of business from negotiation and implementation to operational issues and exits.

Simpson Grierson regularly advises on copyright licensing within the music and technology sectors. Lawyers have extensive experience assisting with lobbying and the implementation of digital copyright amendments. In highlighted work, the firm represented Seven Network on contract disputes relating to images in magazines imported into New Zealand. In other work the practice assisted Sony Music with enforcement and licensing of music repertoire.


Focussed on entertainment, Dominion Law acts for clients ranging from internationally successful artists in the music industry and film studios to first-time film producers. The team includes commercial lawyers who have particular expertise in the creative industries and handle contract negotiations and advise on all areas of rights exploitation.

Izard Weston’s media and entertainment practice is appointed by private and public sector media organisations and public figures. Lawyers represent clients in defamation disputes involving injunctions, suppression orders and breaches of privacy. On behalf of publishers and broadcasters, the team reviews newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, manuscripts and television and film productions prior to publication or broadcast.


Ranking and editorials


Bell Gully

Buddle Findlay

Chapman Tripp


Hudson Gavin Martin

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts

Simpson Grierson


Dominion Law

Izard Weston

Russell McVeagh


A J Park


Kensington Swan

James & Wells


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