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New Zealand Laughs On Air

23 April 2002

It's going to be a season of mirth as NZ On Air funds some of New Zealanders' favourite comedy television for 2002.

NZ On Air has allocated nearly $1 million to four programmes, including The Big Comedy Gala, The Billy T Awards 2002, Havoc & Newsboy's Sellout Tour and The Panel.

"NZ On Air is pleased to support such a diverse range of comedy programmes," said NZ On Air's acting chief executive, Bernard Duncan.

"Comedy is a risky business and needs the support of public funding, provided through NZ On Air."

The Big Comedy Gala brings together top Kiwi comedians, with a sprinkling of international talent. The Gala launches the seventh New Zealand Laugh Festival and NZ On Air funding brings this top-line event to television viewers around the country.

The Billy T Awards were named in honour of one of New Zealand's greatest comedians, the late Billy T James. This award was established in 1997 by the New Zealand Comedy Trust to foster and encourage outstanding New Zealand talent. NZ On Air has funded a television special on the awards since they were established.

"NZ On Air is pleased to be able to support these two shows. They illustrate the depth and breadth of Kiwi comedy talent and allow all New Zealanders to tune in to the best comedy we have on offer," said Mr Duncan.

Two other series with a comedy bent received support from NZ On Air, Havoc & Newsboy's Sellout Tour and The Panel. Both of these programmes deliver the kind of comedy that research shows New Zealanders want, a natural ad -lib style with the ability to laugh at ourselves.

"Havoc and Newsboy's Sellout Tour has a very strong youth audience, with an increasing number of older people enjoying the presenters' off beat but insightful view of New Zealanders. The Panel brings up-to-date topics to our screens in a light-hearted but challenging way not duplicated by any other programme," said Mr Duncan.

NZ On Air has allocated $114,080 to Phoenix TV for the production of a 90 minute show of The Big Comedy Gala and $115,432 for a one hour show of The Billy T James Awards, both to screen on TV 2. TVNZ has received $178,985 for 10 half hour episodes of Havoc and Newsboy's Sellout Tour to screen on TV2. Screentime-Communicado received $436,303 for the 12 part series, The Panel, to screen on TV3.

Ends

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