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Cullen let purse strings go on Maori TV Service

Katherine Rich National Broadcasting Spokesperson

29 June 2003

Cullen let purse strings go on Maori Television Service

The Government added to the woes of the Maori Television Service by approving more funding for the service against Treasury advice, says National Broadcasting Spokesperson Katherine Rich.

Papers released today show the Maori Television Service (MTS) told Treasury last year that it would need 47 staff, but last month it advertised to recruit 140 staff between May and August after receiving a $7m funding boost.

"The Government ignored the advice of Treasury and the Finance Minister against expanding the wallet of the MTS. They said don't do it, we don't believe these figures," said Mrs Rich.

"It is stupendous that a couple of months later it gets the increase and is advertising to treble it's staff. The MTS is totally out of control, there is no attempt to live within its means.

"Other Government departments just can't just double their administration funding overnight without good reason or sound evidence as to why it is necessary.

"The promises made by the MTS are just not credible. The papers show it advised Cabinet that it would go to air this month if approved funding last December.

"Now that date has been put back to November this year, but further delays around the availability of Sky decoders will hold it up to at least until February 2004, if it gets off the ground at all. "Not only is the MTS doomed to fail due to its incompetent Maori Affairs Minister, but the Government has given it a licence to fail by writing out more cheques against it's own Finance Minister's and Treasury advice.

"The ninth floor should spend less time on speech trainers and concentrate on controlling unwieldy spending on projects like the MTS," Katherine Rich says.


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