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'Golden' Era On The Cards At TVNZ

Television New Zealand is liable for payouts totalling several millions of dollars for 'golden parachute' arrangements to senior executives as a result of the Government's decision to change TVNZ from an SOE to a CROC, National MP Murray McCully said today.

Mr McCully said many senior executives had their employment contracts re-written last year to give themselves the ability to walk away with payouts if significant changes were made to the structure and focus of the state broadcaster.

"Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs and TVNZ management have refused to release details in response to Parliamentary Questions and Official Information Act requests.

"Information I have received suggests that TVNZ's total liability for executive payments is in the region of $5million. Next year when the SOE changes its structure to a Crown Owned Company and has to meet Charter obligations many executives will have the option of triggering these payments.

"Marian Hobbs says that she does not know what liability TVNZ is exposed to in terms of making such payouts. It is absolutely indefensible for the Minister to have recommended structural changes to the Cabinet without properly scoping the financial and management risks. Can you imagine any head of a private sector company recommending structural changes without undertaking an analysis of the potential risks and costs?

"TVNZ is refusing to release the information on the grounds of personal privacy and the Ombudsman is investigating my complaint regarding that refusal. There is absolutely no basis for withholding this information which will not disclose any details in relation to individual managers but which will disclose a great deal about TVNZ management practice. This is a shabby cover-up. The public is entitled to know what liabilities the Government has opened up in imposing structural changes," Mr McCully said.

Ends


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