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Broadcasters contribution to nation building

24 September 2002 Media Statement

Broadcasters contribution to nation building crucial

The role broadcasters play in the development and maintenance of New Zealanders sense of national and cultural identity is crucial, says Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey.

Releasing post-election briefing papers from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand on Air and the Broadcasting Standards Authority today, Steve Maharey said globalisation posed particular challenges for broadcasters in this country to reflect what makes us different from other peoples. Although government policy has moved significantly from a narrow focus on allocating frequencies and extracting maximum revenue from Crown-owned broadcasters pursued by National during the 1990s, suspicion remains of the state’s renewed interest in determing what is in the public interest on behalf of New Zealanders.

Steve Maharey said the Labour-led government wants to be an active partner with both private and public broadcasters.

“In a global village where national and international news and drama can be sourced from many hundreds of offshore providers the government has a responsibility to state clearly what it regards as the public interest.

“My position is very clear. New Zealanders want and expect to be able to be informed and entertained in ways relevant and recognisable to them. The governnment’s approach to broadcasting issues is essentially driven by this single objective.

“As these papers reveal, a significant reorientation of the government’s attitude and support for broadcasting took place during the first term of the Labour-led government. I intend to build on these achievements.

“In particular the government wants to see progress on:
- getting more New Zealand content on television and bedding in the voluntary New Zealand quota recently adopted by commerical radio broadcasters;
- getting the Maori Television Service on air and supporting the trial nationwide Pacific broadcaster, Nui FM;
- successfully implementing Television New Zealand’s charter and working with Radio New Zealand to broaden its appeal and use of new technologies;
- renegotiating access rights to radio spectrum which are due to expire in 2010 and deciding on how to use the remaining unallocated frequencies;
- ensuring that the future development of digitial television takes account of local content issues.

“Personally, as someone with a long-standing interest in broadcasting policy, I am looking forward to these challenges. In all cases they will require us to maintain effective partnerships with industry players and lobbyists. I intend to utilise all their expertise when making government decisions that will affect the future of broadcasting,” Steve Maharey said.

Copies of the briefing papers have been posted to Steve Maharey’s website at www.beehive.govt.nz/maharey.

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