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TVNZ sale claims wrong

Jonathan Coleman MP
National Party Broadcasting Spokesman

14 July 2008

TVNZ sale claims wrong

National Party Broadcasting spokesman Jonathan Coleman says claims from Labour and Christchurch Polytech Broadcasting School head Paul Norris that National intends selling TVNZ are wrong.

“National has no plan to sell all or part of TVNZ. We have made that clear, but neither Mr Norris nor Trevor Mallard appear to accept this.”

Dr Coleman is responding to an article written by Mr Norris in today’s New Zealand Herald, which says National is being ‘disingenuous’ with its promise to retain the state broadcaster in public ownership.

“If Mr Norris had bothered to speak with me before putting pen to paper, I’m sure I could have put him straight.”

Dr Coleman says Mr Norris’ defence of TVNZ’s almost meaningless charter is understandable, since he was a champion for it in 1999.

“But nine years on, it hasn’t worked. Millions of dollars has been poured into the state television network with virtually no questions asked. To make matters worse, no one appears to have been tasked with monitoring content or quality.

“What National proposes is a model that allows all free-to-air broadcasters and independent producers an opportunity to pitch for state funding through New Zealand On Air.

“It is a transparent model that delivers on the principles of public broadcasting. TVNZ doesn’t have a monopoly on all the good ideas.”

Other experts in television disagree with Mr Norris’ view, too.

Former TVNZ programme commissioner Irene Gardner says ‘I think National's policy is hallelujah, someone has finally seen sense and seen the light’. Of the charter she says ‘it was the most ridiculous non-document that ever, ever, ever there was’.

Meanwhile, John Barnett from South Pacific Pictures says ‘I just think the confusion that range around charter meant it wasn't ever going to work but the, um $69 million that they actually got over the four years did not make a difference’.

He also said: ‘I heard Paul Norris this morning saying ah the broadcasters won't make these things. The fact is if New Zealand On Air stands there with a big bag of carrots, with $3 million on it saying they want to make, ah, kids' programming, a broadcaster will put their hand up and say please can I have some of that’.

ENDS

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