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Government Will Sacrifice Maori TV to TVNZ

Government Will Sacrifice Maori TV to TVNZ

Sunday 3 Nov 2002 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Broadcasting

Odds are on that this week the Labour Government will instruct Maori Television Service to purchase a second-rate UHF channel from state-owned Broadcast Communications, ACT Broadcasting Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Labour wants to shore up Broadcast Communications, a former cash-cow for ailing Television New Zealand. On Saturday it was reported that Broadcast Communications is laying off ten percent of its staff and is struggling in a sluggish telecommunications market.

"Labour's directive will rob Maori Television Service of any hopes of becoming a mainstream, successful commercial medium like the independent Mai FM. The UHF frequency will only provide coverage for two-in-ten New Zealand households. We can be assured that for the next few years the Government will be dishing out more money to try and keep Maori Television Service afloat. UHF is very expensive due to the need for special antennae, plus the extra costs associated with tuning.

"The Government could still accept a proposal from CanWest that would have the new service transmitted via VHF, on the current TV4 channel. But this government is ideologically and blindly opposed to private enterprise (except when mates are involved) so instead it's prepared to sacrifice Maori television to TVNZ.

Who will pay the extra $20 to $30 million needed to hook up every Maori household to UHF? The taxpayers? Will this qualify as a special needs grant from WINZ? Maori New Zealanders should be outraged at this government's patronising and haughty attitude. By setting Maori Television up to fail, Labour is providing ammunition to the Maori bashers out there.

I would be very surprised if key staff at Maori TV continue in their roles after the Government has shafted them and condemned Maori Television Service to the same future as Aotearoa Television," Miss Coddington said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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