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Broadcasting for democracy and cultural identity

2000 web siteLabour in government will take seriously its responsibility to provide for public broadcasting, Labour Leader Helen Clark said today.

Helen Clark said that Labour's Broadcasting Policy released today focussed on the role that public broadcasting plays in protecting and promoting cultural identity and diversity, and in maintaining the values of democracy.

"A strong public broadcasting system is essential to the future of our national identity. We are a unique nation with a rich heritage and culture and that needs to be portrayed through modern media such as television and radio," Helen Clark said.

"In a democracy it is important to ensure that issues which are important to New Zealand communities are debated and reported from a variety of perspectives. Public broadcasting has a crucial role in that.

"Labour in government will ensure those ideals are achieved through public broadcasting. We will retain and support our public broadcasters, Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand, and we will have format specific quotas for local content on radio and free to air television.

"We have a commitment to Maori broadcasting both through a Maori broadcasting network and provision for Maori broadcasters to broadcast to mainstream audiences.

"For Pacific Island audiences, Labour will work to re-establish the national radio network for Pacific Islands groups covering Auckland, Hamilton, Tokoroa, Wellington and Christchurch. Its loss in 1995 has left a gap that needs to be filled.

"A comprehensive public broadcasting network cannot exist without the necessary frequencies. Labour is concerned that the current spectrum auctions may be restricting future options. We will review the competitive allocation of spectrum and its rollover to ensure that public and commercial needs are balanced, as well as national and local needs."

Helen Clark said Labour had ruled out re-instating the broadcasting fee which was currently being phased out, but was keen to protect funding for broadcasting from political interference and fluctuating government contributions.

The policy is available on Labour's websire www.labour.org.nz

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