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Charter-friendly fodder costs TVNZ viewers

Katherine Rich National Broadcasting Spokesperson

9 February 2001

Charter-friendly fodder costs TVNZ viewers, revenue

The latest ratings figures for TV1 programmes which are attempting to cuddle up to Marian Hobbs' charter conclusively demonstrate that minority-interest programming comes with a hefty price tag, National's Broadcasting spokesperson Katherine Rich said today.

"Not only is TVNZ losing advertising revenue through diminished viewership, but it is also reportedly having to compensate those advertisers who had taken a punt by booking space in TVNZ's 'new look' programming, because the shows failed to deliver the promised number of viewers.

"This is only a foretaste of what will happen when the Charter kicks in. The focus on worthy-but-dull programmes will have a significant effect on TVNZ's income, quite possibly pushing the taxpayer-owned broadcaster into the red.

"Marian Hobbs, as a weak Minister, faced the seemingly insurmountable task of convincing Michael Cullen to return a chunk of TVNZ's dividend, so that she could keep an election broadcasting promise. That problem may have been solved, with the realistic possibility that there may now be no dividend at all. "Marian Hobbs has always overlooked the key reason the Charter won't be successful - you cannot force people to watch what they don't want to watch. This Government's attempt at mental fluoridation will inevitably fail, because people will simply change the channel to something they want to watch.

"Marian is not in a classroom now, where she can put on a worthy but boring video and force students to watch it. She is gifting the viewership of TVNZ to TV3. Just look at what happened when Nga Tohu: Signatures screened on Tuesday night - viewers flocked to watch Roswell and TV3's Special Victims Unit.

"This is what happens when Labour Ministers who don't watch television try and decide what's good for us to watch.

"Television is a democracy, and people vote with their remote. In that context the Government's attempt to dictate what we watch is doomed to failure," Katherine Rich said.


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