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Labour's commitment to public broadcasting

2000 web siteLabour in government will welcome its responsibility to support quality public broadcasting that meets the diverse needs of New Zealanders, Labour broadcasting spokesperson Marian Hobbs said today.

Releasing Labour's Broadcasting Policy, Marian Hobbs confirmed Labour's commitment to public broadcasting for reasons of democracy, and cultural identity and diversity.

"If we allowed a pure free market to rule in broadcasting in New Zealand, we would never hear or see ourselves reflected on television or radio. It is just so much cheaper to play overseas programmes rather than make local programmes," Marian Hobbs said.

"Yet seeing and hearing ourselves reflected through broadcasting is an integral part of developing our cultural identity. That is why the state has a responsibility to support public broadcasting.

"The Minister in Charge of Radio New Zealand, Marie Hasler, has a quite bizarre attitude towards RNZ. She claims that the Government's 'ownership' of RNZ entitles it to collect a dividend from the organisation - a stance which has severely restricted the service the organisation has been able to provide. It is especially insulting given that RNZ has been funded by the broadcasting fee - not from general government funds.

"Labour will not require that dividend and will not commercialise either National Radio or Concert FM. We will work with the board of RNZ to ensure that a high quality service is continued and developed. A commitment to broadcasting in the South Pacific and to strong regional and provincial news coverage will be part of our requirements."

Marian Hobbs said while Television New Zealand operated as a commercial enterprise, there were also public broadcasting principles to be maintained.

"Labour will not sell Television New Zealand. Unless we own it, we do not have the means of providing a television broadcast medium that meets our requirements for democracy and cultural identity.

"Labour believes the priority for TVNZ should be on providing a quality service rather than providing a dividend to the Government and will work over time towards allowing TVNZ to retain a greater proportion of potential dividends.

"TVNZ will have to operate under a charter which will provide that it broadcast programmes for the diverse audiences which make up New Zealand, " Marian Hobbs said.

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

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