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Time To Pull The Plug On Clueless Minister

The Broadcasting portfolio clearly requires a replacement Minister when the Prime Minister does her pre-Christmas Cabinet reshuffle, National's Katherine Rich said today.

"Marian Hobbs' answers to written Parliamentary questions this week show she has achieved virtually nothing in her first year as Minister. Broadcasters have been left with no backup or leadership from the Government as they confront the opportunities of rapidly evolving technology.

"Her actions have not matched her words. Ms Hobbs made loud noises about the need to shift public TV away from a commercial model, yet when asked if the TVNZ dividend targets have been reduced for the 2000/2001 year the Minister's reply was a monosyllabic 'No'.

"She wants less of a commercial focus at TVNZ, but expects them to implement a nebulous charter while returning the same profits to the Government. That's nothing short of nonsensical.

"Ms Hobbs' answers also confirm she has no idea when Labour will introduce its policy of local content quotas for radio and TV. And she has no clear direction on when and to whom the 101-108 FM spectrum will be made available.

"It doesn't matter what you ask the Minister about broadcasting whether it be licence tenure, iwi radio, digital TV, Maori television, regional TV or youth radio there are no clear answers yet for anything. While she tried to create the impression that she had grand plans, she has managed to answer none of the basic issues facing broadcasting.

"That sort of unclear thinking a year down the track does nothing but create confusion. Creating local programme content and setting up new radio stations requires planning, which cannot proceed until the Minister has made a clear decision. The only thing clear about the Broadcasting Minister is that she doesn't have a clue.

"It's time the Prime Minister turned off the high-life support system which keeps Ms Hobbs supplied with canapés, chardonnay and Ministerial limousines. The Minister's EEG has flatlined for twelve months, and keeping her in the job for another two years would be an ill-advised move," Katherine Rich said.


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