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Quota talk shows Hobbs still out of touch

Katherine Rich National Broadcasting Spokesperson

28 March 2001

Quota talk shows Hobbs still out of touch

Marian Hobbs' musings today about local content quotas show that a month off the job hasn't made Marian Hobbs any more streetwise about broadcasting, National's Broadcasting spokesperson Katherine Rich said today.

"Only 5 seconds back in the job and she's already re-spooking the industry with plans for more government intervention and bureaucracy. She is again threatening to introduce bureaucratic content quotas for radio and television.

Marian Hobbs shows a blatant disregard for the commercial environment that most broadcasters are working within. Take the television market: all the television companies I have spoken to are finding the business environment tough going due to a flat advertising market and hikes in overseas programme costs. The additional burden of quotas at this time will be the last straw for some companies which are already struggling to survive.

"We know that TVNZ's long term finances look bleak and are likely to get bleaker with the Charter lurking in the wings. Many of TVNZ's clients have already been spooked from taking on long term contracts and the introduction of quotas will make their confidence in television dissipate further.

"The Minister stubbornly refuses to see that the broadcasting environment has changed since Labour first hatched this interventionist idea a decade ago. She continues to perpetuate a myth that New Zealand is a local content free zone, when the opposite is true.

"TVNZ's last two Statements of Corporate Intent say that TV One must screen more than 50% local content in prime time. This level is exceeded most nights. Commercial radio across the board plays 10.5% local content and some formats play up to 30% kiwi music. NZ on Air told me at a Select Committee last week that their objective to get the average kiwi music airplay up to 15-20% within two years is achievable. All of this, without quotas.

"Marian Hobbs should have used her time in exile to watch some TV or listen to radio so she'd be better in touch with the portfolio. Perhaps then she would see that there are other priorities which, after her 15 months of dawdling, are more pressing," Katherine Rich said.

Ends

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