Commerce Commission reveals draft Telecommunications Development Levy contributions

9 Nov 2021

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has released its draft determination on the allocation of payments for the government’s Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) for the period covering 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. The regulator proposes that Spark, Vodafone, Chorus and 2degrees collectively pay 88% of the NZD10.145 million (USD7.252 million) levy, with the remainder divided among other liable providers. Stakeholders have until 23 November to submit their feedback.

The TDL is paid by providers earning more than NZD10 million per year from telecommunications services, including internet, mobile, and data services. The government uses the funds collected by this levy to pay for telecommunications infrastructure and services that are not commercially viable, including the relay service for the deaf and hearing-impaired, broadband for rural areas, and improvements to the 111 emergency service.

The draft determination comes after the Commission sought clarification from the High Court on whether businesses involved in the transmission of broadcasting signals are liable to contribute to the levy following amendments to the Telecommunications Act in 2018, which removed an exemption for ‘broadcasting’ from the definition of ‘telecommunication’. In a judgement issued last month, the High Court confirmed that, apart from free-to-air broadcasters and satellite providers operating outside New Zealand, businesses involved in broadcasting transmission can be liable to pay the TDL. The result is that Sky TV is now liable to contribute to the TDL for the first time and Kordia will pay a higher share than previous years.