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Funding Delays Cause Hardship For Mäori TV Makers

Funding Delays Causing Severe Hardship For Mäori Television Makers

The Prime Minister has been warned that the Mäori television service may not have programmes to transmit if programme makers are forced to the wall by continuing delays.

The recent events surrounding the setting up of the Maori Television Service has seen funding delays for independent Maori Production companies and many may be forced to close their doors.

Nga Aho Whakaari, the organisation which represents Maori in Film and Television, said it’s members are suffering because of policy changes which have seen Te Mängai Päho suspend funding of Maori television programme production in readiness for a handover to the MTS. Maori television producers have therefore been unable to access funding for projects for the past six months.

Nga Aho Whakaari Chairman, Tainui Stephens, said the MTS Board called for expressions of interest for programmes in January but has delayed its decisions thereby making it extremely difficult for programme makers to forecast revenues and production schedules.

Mr Stephens says many Maori production companies have made a commitment to and built a solid reputation for making high quality Maori television programmes. However, they are in danger of going under because they are unable to make programmes or continue producing existing series.

“The Government is now facing the very real possibility that it will have the new channel up and running but there will be few programmes available because the Maori production companies are no longer in existence,” said Mr Stephens.

“The time frame for the establishment of the station is in doubt. That should not cause the making of Mäori television programmes to just grind to a halt. It should be a period of growth - and the maximising of time and opportunity to prepare for being on-air.”

Nga Aho Whakaari has written to Prime Minister Clark and Ministers Cullen and Horomia challenging them to act immediately and allow Te Mängai Päho to continue its business of purchasing Maori television programmes.

“It is unreasonable to expect us to wait for the MTS to formulate its policy. There are certain genre of Mäori television programmes that would be required for any television schedule: news and current affairs, educational, children’s and teenage programming, among many others. Funding has also been suspended for Maori programmes that would screen on the other mainstream networks – this suspension should end as well. “ said Mr Stephens.

Nga Aho Whakaari said Te Mängai Päho has been central to the growth of Mäori television over many years now. They have acquired a lot of industry experience to assist them in these important decisions. We demand that they be allowed to release their funds. The business of growing a healthy community of Mäori television programme providers is fundamental to targeting the needs of Mäori and Päkehä viewers.

It would be a further embarrassment for the Mäori Television Service to be ready to transmit but with no programmes to transmit.


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