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Desperately seeking funding

Katherine Rich National Broadcasting Spokesperson

4 April 2001

Desperately seeking funding

Marian Hobbs' scramble for alternative funding gives the impression that broadcasting funding is more vulnerable now than it ever was under a National Government, National's Broadcasting spokesperson Katherine Rich said today.

"When National removed the Broadcasting Fee, we made clear that funding for broadcasting was assured from general taxation. Ms Hobbs' directives over the last four months show the Minister is desperately seeking alternative methods of funding government expenditure on public service broadcasting.

"While Marian Hobbs plays down her extraordinary list of broadcasting taxes, the reality is that two months ago she thought the options were important enough to commit hundreds of hours of officials' time and resources in researching them.

"Regardless of how she explains the dismissal of her new tax ideas, the reasons she has given for ditching them are purely financial. Yesterday she said 'we found such measures would not raise the required finance' and today in answer to a question from Bill English that the options 'wouldn't raise necessary funding'.

"New Zealand movie-goers, video watchers and broadcasters are saved but not because they were startlingly dumb ideas or because the government was committed to its promise of 'no new taxes'. The only reason for not proceeding with these options is because they would not have raised the $100 - 150 million that the Minister needs to fulfil her broadcasting policy commitments.

"Reading between the lines it's clear that Michael Cullen has said no to new money, no to reducing TVNZ's dividend and no to a permanent legislative authority. Having made a long list of policy commitments such as the Charter and local content quotas, funding limitations and a failure to deliver will do more to damage her ministerial credibility than any allowances scandal," Katherine Rich said.

Ends

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