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Resignation a symptom of TVNZ's split personality

31 October 2005

Fraser's resignation a symptom of TVNZ's split personality

Ian Fraser's allegations of political interference by the TVNZ board are extremely serious and need to be thoroughly investigated by an inquiry that takes in the state broadcaster's contradictory mission, Green Party Broadcasting Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

Mr Fraser has resigned as Television New Zealand's chief executive after four years in the job, citing interference in day-to-day running by a board of "political appointees".

"These are extraordinarily serious allegations by a respected broadcaster; if the public is going to retain any confidence in TVNZ these matters must be fully investigated," Ms Kedgley says.

"At the least, the Commerce Select Committee, who are responsible for SOEs such as TVNZ, should take a look. However, this may yet turn out to be so significant that an independent inquiry may be in order.

"A public broadcaster that receives substantial Government funding can't just be politically neutral - it must be seen to be politically neutral. If nothing else, having its CEO cite interference as his reason for resigning brings that appearance into question, so at the very least an inquiry is needed to re-establish public confidence that TVNZ is free of interference.

"The protocols and practices that guarantee TVNZ's day-to-day independence need to be reviewed. How were they breached and why?

"I believe it is critical that any inquiry looks at the entire picture, as it is pretty obvious to even the most casual observer that all of this is just a symptom of TVNZ's split personality. Its dual mandate that requires it to fulfill its Charter obligations while still returning a significant dividend to the Government is clearly unsustainable.

"The Green Party has been calling for some time for TVNZ to be given a much clearer public service focus, as happens with state broadcasters in most other Western countries. Ian Fraser's resignation must be viewed as a wake-up call," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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