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Why not give long-suffering viewers a break?

The $70 million special dividend to the Government from TVNZ should be used to give long-suffering TV viewers a break, Alliance leader Jim Anderton says.

He says it could be used to fund non-commercial children’s television, or even purchase free-to-air international sport.

The special dividend was paid after TVNZ sold out of its holdings in Clear Communications and Sky TV.

“The $70 million is money that was made by TVNZ from its broadcasting-related business.

“Instead of using the special dividend to fund even more pay-outs for sacked state sector managers, the money should stay in broadcasting and be used to enhance the service for viewers.

“The first priority for $70 million would have been to fund the switch to digital television, which Treasury has been using as a bogus argument for privatising TVNZ. But the SOE has already made enough from the sale of its shares in Sky and Clear to fund digitalisation, and still make the $70 million pay-out.

“The government could use the money to purchase commercial-free kids TV. No parent could be comfortable with the amount of commercial hard-sell directed at children on television.

“Some experts believe that a viable national non-commercial channel could be established and run for around $70 million. Even if the Government didn’t want to go that far, with $70 million it could invest heavily in New Zealand productions or even allow sports fans to watch some of their favourite test matches live on free-to-air TV.

“This is our money, and it’s hard to see why it shouldn’t be used to give long-suffering viewers something worthwhile on television,” Jim Anderton said.

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