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RNZ plan would put more taxpayer cash at risk

RNZ plan would put more taxpayer cash at risk

National Party Broadcasting spokeswoman Georgina te Heuheu is asking why state-run Radio New Zealand should spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a high risk internet venture - providing a service which private companies already provide.

"Almost no-one makes money from the internet news game."

She's commenting on plans by Radio New Zealand to establish its own text based news website within six months. The state broadcaster has also asked for $259,000 to set up an 'audio on demand' facility, estimating it will cost a further $360,000 a year to run.

"Radio New Zealand already receives $24.149 million in taxpayer funding, and a further $2.972 million income from other sources.

"Why should taxpayers be putting their hands in their pockets to help an outfit which is already getting significant Government funding. There is no suggestion RNZ will seek to recoup any of the money it invests in its web service.

"It'll be in direct competition with the likes of stuff.co.nz, nzherald.co.nz, newstalkzb.co.nz, newsroom and scoop, to name just a few," Mrs te Heuheu says.

"Most, if not all, of these news providers have sometimes struggled in a highly competitive market.

"The Government's other big broadcasting asset, Television New Zealand, is also running a web-based news service which has had real problems.

"Nzoom is being restructured and relaunched as tvnz.com; it downsized last year, and there were a large number of redundancies, more than in other division of TVNZ (roughly a third of nzoom's staff).

"There's also the not-so-small fact that over a three-year period, nzoom consistently lost money.

"Radio New Zealand should stick to its knitting rather than trying to compete with the private sector using taxpayer money," says Mrs te Heuheu.

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