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Select Committee Reports On RNZ Review

Commerce Committee

9 May 2002

Parliamentary Select Committee Reports On Radio New Zealand Review

Committee chairperson David Cunliffe said “This week the Commerce Committee presented a report to the House on its 2000/01 financial review of the performance and current operations of Radio New Zealand Limited.’

In summary the committee reported on the following matters:

- We consider RNZ received a good assessment from the Audit Office for its financial and service performance management.

- We are pleased that a net surplus of $384,000 (68 percent above the forecast net surplus) was made without cuts to news services.

- In future, to provide for greater transparency and accountability, we request that RNZ provide a detailed breakdown of all increases related to operating costs and contingent liabilities.

- RNZ holds $5 million in cash reserves and is looking at actively applying it towards deferred capital expenditure.

- The National Radio-listener target was exceeded by 119,700 listeners. We note actual listener numbers from 1997 to 2001 have been consistently higher than the 415,300-listener target and are pleased the listener target for the 2002/03 financial year has been increased to 535,000, as it now sets a realistic performance measure. We intend to monitor listener numbers in the future and would be concerned if listenership dropped below current audience levels.

- We note RNZ's comment that the most efficient form of funding would be direct bulk funding and consider this issue deserves further consideration.

- We remain concerned about the blurred lines of accountability between RNZ and NZ On Air and encourage the Government to address legislative inconsistencies between the Acts that govern RNZ and NZ On Air to ensure these arrangements are clearly delineated.

- RNZ states it can have no concrete plans to implement FM nationwide, unless operational funding is available.

- We note the Government agrees the Radio New Zealand Act 1995 must be amended to acknowledge Radio New Zealand International (RNZI), so it can be brought within RNZ’s responsibilities under the Charter.

- We consider RNZI is operating below the bare minimum threshold for funding. We find it difficult to reconcile current RNZI funding arrangements with the Government’s agreement that “different geographic areas have different needs, and one of the jobs of public radio is to meet the needs of all sectors’.

- RNZ has no current plans to establish a youth radio network. We note RNZ’s candid comments about the possible establishment of a youth radio network. Our view is funding earmarked for a youth radio station should be spent on servicing markets that are not currently well serviced, like the children’s market, or spent funding current RNZ programmes/services, like RNZI and the Sounds Archives/Nga Toanga Korero Ltd (NTKL), that clearly require enhanced funding.

A copy of the report will be replaced on the Office of the Clerk website. www.parliament.govt.nz.

Ends

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