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Regional TV Broadcasters Address Industry Issues

Regional Television Broadcasters Group of NZ Inc.

Regional Television Broadcasters Join Forces To Address Industry Issues

Regional television broadcasters from around New Zealand met for the first time this week to discuss the dramatic changes facing television broadcasting in the coming years. Of particular concern was the part regional TV is likely to play with the advent of digital transmission technology.

Spokesperson, Jim Blackman of Auckland’s Triangle Television said that most people did not realise that the combined potential audience of the 12 stations which were represented exceeded that of some of the more well recognised national stations.

“It’s just that as individuals our coverage seems small, but as a group we estimate our collective audience is already between 65 and 75% of the population – and growing almost monthly,” he said.

While most of the stations operate solely with in their own geographic areas, programme sharing is becoming more common.

“We now see programmes which have been made in Invercargill screening in Wellington, or Auckland, and vice-versa, and we expect this trend to continue” said Mr Blackman. “This really is true national broadcasting, and viewers throughout the country can expect some nice and refreshing surprises on their local channel in the months ahead.”

None of the regional stations has received any funding from New Zealand on Air to assist with programme production or for assistance with day to day operation, and this is considered unfair.

“We are deeply concerned about the inequality, and method of providing programme funding. There is a perception that TV production has to run at sums as high as $100,000 an hour. We don’t accept this. We know that many high quality programmes which attract large audiences are being made by our stations at a fraction of this cost.” he said.

“We are also concerned that recent decisions which have been made on the transition to digital broadcast methods may see regional stations out in the cold. The country cannot afford to overlook the contribution these stations make both from a creative and cultural point of view and we believe Government has an obligation to ensure that they, too, have an equal opportunity to join the digital age to ensure their survival.”

He said that it was equally important that the viewer had access to this programming on a free-to-air digital basis.

“Without exception New Zealand’s regional stations have been forced to survive, against the odds, on shoe-string budgets. Yet they have made a significant impact in their own regions, and indeed nationally. Let’s ensure they are not cut off at the knees.”

He said the importance of such niche broadcasting had been recognised overseas and many countries now require operators of cable networks not only to carry local regional television, but also to contribute to the cost of set up. This was not the case in New Zealand.

The broadcasters decided unanimously to form an industry body to ensure their needs are not overlooked and hope to meet with the Minister of Broadcasting shortly to present a briefing paper for consideration in the development of new national broadcasting strategies.

Prepared for: Regional Television Broadcasters Group of NZ
C/- PO Box 78 034, Grey Lynn
Auckland
Contact: Jim Blackman, Chairman
Ph (09) 360 4610 Email: jim@tritv.com Fax: (09) 376 5049

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