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TVNZ Split Political Rather Than Sensible

6 May 2001

The Government's decision to tear TVNZ's profitable arms off is a political decision rather than one based on sound public policy or advice, National's Broadcasting spokesperson Katherine Rich said today.

"This is political interference with the media - thinly veiled as restructuring. Marian Hobbs has previously threatened to separate BCL from TVNZ to force TVNZ into making the changes she wants to the content on our screens. There is no rhyme or reason to this split except that it will make TVNZ weaker and more submissive to government control.

"This dodgy decision to cut TVNZ's main source of funding off hasn't got Cabinet approval and has been kept away from public debate. "The Minister can't answer the big questions about the Charter - how much will it cost and how will it be funded? Breaking up TVNZ into weaker parts makes the Charter even more of a pipedream.

"Marian Hobbs has failed to release the Arthur Andersen report to the scrutiny of the public and the Opposition. We understand the report finds there are few benefits only costs in splitting BCL from TVNZ.

"Spending over $300,000 on the Arthur Andersen report was a waste of money when the decision has ended up being a political one rather than one grounded in any well-researched policy.

"Marian Hobbs is taking one of the Government's top five companies and making it a sad Government bureaucracy that eventually will be irrelevant in the New Zealand broadcasting environment. This demonstrates again that this Government knows nothing about running a broadcasting business.

"What it keeps forgetting is that New Zealander's can change channels. Most public broadcasters around the world have a viewership of 5 - 20% tops while TVNZ has over 70% of viewers every night.

"Make the programmes too worthy and earnest and viewers will change channels or switch off totally," Katherine Rich said. Ends

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