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Government to develop new charter for TVNZ

31 January 2000

Government to develop new charter for TVNZ

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Minister of Broadcasting and Minister in Charge of Television New Zealand Marian Hobbs, said today that the Government had decided not to approve the joint venture proposal for Television New Zealand to set up a digital television service.

Helen Clark and Marian Hobbs said that the Cabinet today spent a considerable time discussing the issues involved.

"The Cabinet's view was that it is necessary for the government to establish a wider public policy framework within which to consider the expansion of digital television services. It believes that there needs to be broader public policy debate about how these new services might be introduced. Agreeing to the Television New Zealand proposal now pre-empts that broader debate.

"Cabinet also noted that the new government favoured a different direction for Television New Zealand from that which it had followed in recent years.

"This government wants to establish a charter for Television New Zealand which brings public interest objectives for its development to the fore. Ministers wish to see Television New Zealand offering more programming reflecting New Zealand perspectives, culture and identity. The dominant commercial objective under which it has operated would be a barrier to this re-direction.

"Ministers have a concern that agreement to Television New Zealand's proposed digital television joint venture now would drive the attention of Television New Zealand further away from its responsibilities as a public interest broadcaster and even more towards what have been hitherto its predominant commercial objectives.

"The Cabinet has agreed to give priority now to developing public policy on the expansion of digital television services.

"In addition Marian Hobbs as Minister of Broadcasting and Minister in Charge of Television New Zealand will be returning to the Cabinet with proposals for redirecting Television New Zealand around the Government's intentions for public television.

"Cabinet is aware of the very considerable time which Television New Zealand has invested in developing its joint venture proposal. It did not, however, wish to be pre-empted at this time in its examination of broader public policy issues by a decision to proceed with this proposal", Helen Clark and Marian Hobbs said.

ENDS

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