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TVNZ Charter "Dangerous And Worrying"

The TVNZ Charter's proposal to "encourage creative risk-taking" is worrying, and dangerous,” ACT Broadcasting spokesman, Penny Webster, said today.

The draft charter, which took 10 months to develop, outlines in broad terms the forms of broadcast content TVNZ must provide.

"This confirms that the Government is prepared to jeopardise TVNZ's future by pandering to the viewing needs of a narrow sector of the population, and experimenting with taxpayer's money,” Mrs Webster said.

"The Government has sacrificed the medium-long term viability of TVNZ to make way for minority interest-group programming.

"Restricting programme viewing options will attract less viewer numbers, resulting in less advertising revenue for TVNZ. A one per cent drop in ratings equals $4 million in lost advertising revenue.

"Combined with the decision not to invest in digital television, this further puts this valuable asset at risk. These disturbing revelations will have a long-term and drastic effect on TVNZ's profits, and it's overall value, putting taxpayers' money at serious risk,” she said.

Mrs Webster said the charter's intention was to "appeal to tastes and interests not generally catered for by other television broadcasters". “If such programmes are too costly or anti-mainstream to be considered elsewhere, why transfer the risk to New Zealand's most valuable broadcaster?

“Furthermore, Broadcasting Minister Marion Hobbs is using a self-selected group to gain feedback on her new feel-good broadcasting charter. Ms Hobbs said copies will be sent to groups and individuals who have written to the Minister with their concerns.

"Plainly Marion Hobbs is trying to guarantee success for her centralised decision-making by gathering what will be a very one-sided response,” Mrs Webster said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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