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Public owed explanation over Hawkesby fiasco

7 February 2000

Public owed explanation over Hawkesby fiasco

Prime Minister Helen Clark today said that the TVNZ Board would be called to account by its shareholding ministers for the fiasco surrounding the massive settlement made to former newsreader John Hawkesby.

"The public, which after all owns TVNZ, is now entitled to a full explanation of the events which culminated in the awarding of this settlement. Millions of dollars have gone up in smoke in the settlement, and more now will be spent on legal fees and public relations smokescreens.

"New Zealanders will be shocked at the sums of money involved in settling the Hawkesby issue. We all know how far these millions of dollars could have gone into the sort of programming a public broadcaster should be emphasising ahead of ratings - local drama, better quality news and more current affairs.

"The new government has already signalled its determination to take the state-owned broadcaster in a new, fresh direction. That is the challenge now facing the TVNZ Board.

"The new 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 TVNZ offering more programming reflecting New Zealand perspectives, culture and identity. The dominant commercial objective under which it has operated, and which has contributed to the Hawkesby fiasco, would be a barrier to this re-direction. That's why it's time for change," Helen Clark said.

ENDS



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