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Greens welcome Minister's support for channel

20 June 2006

Greens welcome Minister's support for public channel

Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey's support for the idea of TVNZ establishing an advertisement-free, genuinely public broadcasting channel once digital television is set up in New Zealand is being welcomed by Green Party Broadcasting Spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

"I am delighted that the Government agrees with the Green Party that the advent of digital television presents TVNZ with an opportunity to differentiate itself from other commercial broadcasters by establishing an advertising free public broadcasting channel, and we look forward to TVNZ unveiling plans for such a channel in the near future," Ms Sue Kedgley says.

The Minister was responding to a question from Ms Kedgley in the House today.

"I am concerned, however, that the Minister told the House that his Government had no plans to increase its funding of local programming or to introduce local content quotas once the digital television platform is established.

"Without a substantial funding boost, there is a real danger that the advent of up to 18 new digital television channels could dilute local content on television even further. If we are not careful, digital television might deliver nothing more than high quality images of low quality overseas television programmes and endless re-runs of other people's reality TV shows.

"The Government is prepared to spend 25 million dollars setting up digital television platform, but is not prepared to help ensure there are quality New Zealand programmes to screen on all these new channels.

"We already have one of the lowest proportions of local content on free to air television in the Western world, and digital television looks set to reduce it even further. What on earth is the point of that?

"The Minister confirmed in the House today that TVNZ is expecting to introduce six new television channels, but it appears that the Government has no idea who is going to fund the programmes that will screen on these six channels.

"Without substantial increased investment, digital television will not deliver on its promise," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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