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Labour's TVNZ Proposals Don't Stand Analysis

Labour's announced policy for TVNZ is poorly thought through and lacks critical analysis, says ACT Leader and former Broadcasting Minister Richard Prebble.

"Labour's proposals will result in a massive loss of value of at least $500 million and a corresponding lack of capacity for state television to be able to either finance new developments or fund quality programmes.

Even a few moments thought should tell the Government that one channel can't produce as much revenue as two. TVNZ at the moment finances its New Zealand-made programmes from the revenue it makes from blockbuster programmes that the Labour party wants to confine to TV2.

"The Prime Minister's comments about television also indicate her thinking about the electronic medium is a decade out of date. The rapid multiplication in the number of television channels has already put state television under great pressure. 18 months ago TVNZ had all the major sport. Now it's lost the cricket and rugby and with it a huge amount of value.

"The previous Government's independent advisors warned of this development and urged the sale of TVNZ when it was worth an estimated $1.8 billion. National didn't have the votes and the Labour party blocked the sale. As a result the taxpayers' television channels are now worth $500 million less.

"If Labour goes ahead with its proposals, state television will lose a further 5000 million. This will have an immediate impact on the quality of television. The loss in value reduces television's ability to be able to borrow to fund new developments like digital technology or to fund programme making.

"If the new Government wants a non commercial television channel showing Marian Hobbs' culture programmes, it would be cheaper to set up a new channel. The new developments in television have drastically slashed the cost of such an option, though the cheapest way would be to lease such a channel from Sky TV. The Labour party doesn't want to do this because then the taxpayer would see how much money Labour's culture cost the rest of us.

"If Labour did rigorously examine what they're saying, they would realise they are really making the case that there's no justification for the taxpayer owning either TV1 or 2 and a fraction of the revenue of the sale would fund the sort of television they believe the nation needs."

ENDS

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