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TVNZ pays heavily for political interference

Katherine Rich MP National Party Broadcasting Spokeswoman

15 October 2003

TVNZ pays heavily for political interference

National Party Broadcasting spokeswoman Katherine Rich says the state television network is paying a heavy price for the Government's ideological push to turn TVNZ into a political tool.

"Despite record advertising revenues, there has been almost no growth in the net surplus from the television side of the business. "I'm still concerned that TVNZ will be forced to go cap in hand to the Government for more funding, especially with big losses predicted over the rugby world cup, although there's no mention of that in this year's annual report, " says Mrs Rich.

"This 'Indian giver' Government is also set to receive a total dividend of $7.8 million, essentially taking back most of the $12 million it gave the company to implement the Charter.

"That flies in the face of earlier promises that the Government would allow TVNZ to retain more of its surplus to make television," Mrs Rich says.

"Remember, this was an asset that was paying the Government a $30 million dividend in 2000, this year that return on the taxpayer investment has plummeted to $7.8 million.

"The Charter contradictions have helped pave the way for redundancies, while quality current affairs programmers like Assignment have been axed," says Mrs. Rich.

"At the same time, shows introduced under the Charter, have been turning viewers off in droves."

"There has been a 31% slump in the TVNZ audience between 930pm and 1030pm on Thursdays and Saturdays when those Charter flagships are aired.

"Labour's ideology is eroding the value of a key Government asset and as viewer numbers die away, revenue will inevitably be further affected," says Mrs Rich.

"The results should be a signal for the Labour Government to back off.

"The Government must abandon its social and political engineering through the broadcasting portfolio and return control of our television network to the people of New Zealand," says Mrs Rich.


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