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Cruel Irony In 'Backchat' Axeing

31 October 1999: "Television has only one dedicated arts programme - the bold and independent Backchat. But in the last few days we hear that Backchat may be marginalised - that it may not fit the hip and groovy image the television managers appear to want for TV One. Backchat is threatened with an early morning slot and no replay. Its audiences would decline and in due course it could expect to be axed." Helen Clark speech launching Labour 1999 election campaign

19 September 2000: "TVNZ shall... feature programmes that encourage and support the arts, including programmes featuring New Zealand and international performers, artists and arts companies." Release of TVNZ Draft Charter

2 October 2000 TVNZ cancels Backchat

"It is deeply ironic that TVNZ's first major move since the release of the Draft Charter is to dump Backchat," National's Broadcasting Spokesperson Katherine Rich said today.

"The programme was enjoyed by many New Zealanders who love and support the arts. Helen Clark herself was obviously a fan, although Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs attacked it in July this year for criticising her reluctance to appear onscreen to debate broadcasting issues.

"If this is the direction Marian's much agonised over Charter is taking public broadcasting then it gives reason for grave concern. People who watch television for entertainment are already disappointed by the Charter, now it seems those seeking education and stimulating debate must share that feeling," Katherine Rich said.

Ends

A printable formatted copy of this press release will be available on http://www.national.org.nz along with an archive of previous releases.


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