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Competition Key To A Strong Broadcasting System

Support for competition in local production is a key aspect of NZ On Air’s 2001-02 Statement of Intent, tabled in Parliament today.

The statement details the outputs that NZ On Air will secure for the Government and the New Zealand public and outlines for NZ On Air’s service providers – including broadcasters and television producers – the services that will be purchased in the coming year.

“Contestability – or competition – is what ensures tax payers’ money is spent effectively, and provides opportunity for a range of different perspectives and voices to be heard,” according to David Beatson, Chairman of NZ On Air.

“What does ‘diversity’ mean in real terms? It means that the local programmes on our screens range from a satirical comedy about the “gooey duck” boom, to a historical documentary series about the New Zealand wars, to a drama series set in small town New Zealand, to Havoc and Newsboy taking the mickey in small town New Zealand.

“Our local production costs are among the most efficient in the world. The current competitive bidding process – which applies both to broadcasters and to production companies – ensures that New Zealand audiences receive excellent value for the public broadcasting dollars,” Mr Beatson said.

“The Government’s support for broadcasting, which has seen NZ On Air’s funding boosted in the last two budgets, will mean close to 900 hours of television can be supported in the next year, as well as 18 NZ music albums, 60 singles by new recording artists and at least 100 music videos. This level of activity meets or surpasses the results we were able to achieve in the mid-90’s with the Broadcasting Fee.”

The principle of contestability sits behind many of NZ On Air’s decision-making principles, as outlined in the statement of intent.

“Accessibility, quality, and diversity of programming, and transparency of processes and outcomes, are all important factors when we decide what projects to support with the funding we have available to us.

“In each of these areas, the contestable system is a key support mechanism,” Mr Beatson said.

Mr Beatson said that despite the review of broadcasting policy, currently underway, it would be “business as usual” for NZ On Air in 2001-02.

“In 2001-01 we were able to continue to make strong advances, despite a policy environment in transition. Our drama strategy review resulted in a number of new drama series, including Mercy Peak, Street Legal, Jackson’s Wharf, Being Eve, and The Strip, and a number of other projects.

“We hope to continue this strong development in 2001-02.”

“We will continue to consult with and research the needs of broadcasters, producers and consumers, and undertake research projects to ensure that our funding decisions match the needs of New Zealanders as citizens, not simply as consumers,” Mr Beatson said.

More information on NZ On Air’s Statement of Intent and other policies is available on the internet, at www.nzonair.govt.nz

Ends

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