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National signals it will prepare TVNZ for sale

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister of Broadcasting

7 July 2008 Media Statement

National signals it will prepare TVNZ for sale

National's plans for broadcasting are a Trojan horse for the ultimate privatisation of Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand, Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"The proposal to scrap the charter – which places public broadcasting obligations on TVNZ – is a backward step and will turn TVNZ into a totally commercial organisation with absolutely no public broadcasting obligations," Trevor Mallard said.

"The promise to retain ownership rings hollow. This policy is a Trojan horse for privatisation down the track.

"If TVNZ is not required to produce charter content – stories of New Zealanders, minority programming, and programmes it would not otherwise produce as a commercial broadcaster, then the question remains – why then leave TVNZ as a state broadcaster?

"The suggestion that any funding that broadcasters receive should be dependent on their ratings also points to increased commercialisation and privatisation of our state broadcasters. Ratings are a purely commercial tool used to calculate the value of advertising space. Is National now intending to make public funding contingent on these commercial ratings? "

"Why is National dropping state funding to both Radio New Zealand Concert and the internationally recognised Radio New Zealand International? And National is also suspiciously quiet on the Radio New Zealand charter. Do they plan to scrap this too and make the broadcaster compete against commercial radio stations for its funding?

"The policy released today is devoid of detail, and even fails to say what the funding model would be. There is no sign of any requirements that will be placed on broadcasters which apply for the taxpayers funding that used to be directed to New Zealand charter content.

"I have already announced a tightening of the use of charter funding. It will be channelled through NZ On Air in the future to ensure that the funded programmes reflect the purpose of the public funding, while also respecting TVNZ's editorial independence.

"Mr Coleman also reveals his ignorance. Contrary to his claim, the government already provides over $70 million annually for free to air television channels and independent television producers through New Zealand on Air," Trevor Mallard said.

ENDS

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