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National's Broadcasting Policy Hides Real Agenda

16 July 2002

Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs says National’s broadcasting policy is lightweight, vague and lacks commitment to public broadcasting.

"A charitable view might suggest National hasn't had the time to put together a proper broadcasting policy. But, reflecting on their nine years in government, it is more likely the policy masks their real agenda -- to care only about the balance sheet and not about what appears on our screens," Marian Hobbs said.

"National claims to want to re-build TVNZ. But the public well remembers what they did last time they were in power. They treated TVNZ as a cash cow, taking a special dividend away from the company while they prepared it for sale. The special dividend is the only loss of value in recent years that can be attributed to government action. The rest is about market conditions, which are now beginning to improve.

"The policy is lightweight. Important issues such as digital television or the future of regional television are ignored. Where is the detail on what they propose for TVNZ? And what about Radio New Zealand? This kind of vagueness shows a real lack of commitment to public broadcasting.

"I am encouraged that National now supports Labour’s work on developing non-commercial networks for our diverse communities. This is a welcome change. They also say that they oppose state intervention to establish any commercial radio network. This is great. But no one is proposing any such thing. If this is a reference to the investigation of a Youth Radio Network, all the options proposed have been non-commercial.

"I am proud of Labour’s record on broadcasting. We have worked in partnership with the whole industry to re-build public broadcasting after it was written off by National."

Labour’s broadcasting policy will be released tomorrow.

Ends

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