Dr Ropata might have never returned from Guatemala, and the West family might have never been born into outrageous fortune, had it not been for a law change 25 years ago.
The Broadcasting Act, passed in May 1989, led to the establishment of funding agency New Zealand on Air, which turned 25 on July 1.
It meant that suddenly – and it did happen virtually overnight – anyone with an idea for producing New Zealand content for broadcast could apply for funding. Before 1989, it was limited to the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand, which operated the two television channels and had a virtual monopoly on the radio waves.
This was a key change, which increased competition. The state’s funding used to go on the state channels only. This change opened up the funding for NZ productions to all producers and all channels.