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OIA Release Of DTV Papers

Papers on the development of TVNZ's plan for digital television, released today under the Official Information Act, show the previous government could not make a decision despite considering the proposal for some six months, the Minister of Broadcasting Marian Hobbs said.

"TVNZ was quite obviously being readied for sale and the accent was on making money rather than providing a service for the people," Marian Hobbs said.

"The previous Minister of Finance, Sir William Birch and the Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Tony Ryall, sought a $100 million dividend from TVNZ and suggested that the digital strategy could be funded via additional debt.

"It was also suggested that if TVNZ was to be sold it may be better to leave the digital issue to the new owner and that a 'managed death' of TVNZ might be preferable to DTV. I am committed to TVNZ's future and a managed death is not an option.

"When we took office a decision was necessary for the company's planning.

"I have no doubt that TVNZ will go digital but the coalition government decided a wider public policy framework was necessary within which the expansion of digital television services could be considered.

"With an officials' committee on broadcasting issues, I have been developing high-level policy papers on transmission and technology as well as public broadcasting content and will be reporting to Cabinet in June."

Marian Hobbs said she was aware of intense public interest in the subject and is releasing as much material as she can. It runs to several hundred pages over two volumes.

Note: A set of the papers will be deposited at the Parliamentary Library and TVNZ is also making much of the material available on its website

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