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Maori TV Indecision is Pathetic

Maori TV Indecision is Pathetic

The Cabinet’s failure to make a decision on whether to force the Maori Television Service to use a second-rate frequency reveals a bitter division between ministers, ACT Broadcasting Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

“Is this the same group of people who actually voted for the station to be created? Their hypocrisy is breathtaking – one would have expected them to very quickly pick the best platform, which is clearly CanWest’s TV4, and move on. Yet as a result of their bickering and inaction, the public has been paying for this new channel for months, yet it’s going to be another six months before a single programme is aired.

“Today’s been a tough day for the Prime Minister – generally she is able to stamp on internal Labour conflicts before they reach the media.

“A group of ministers, including Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey – who isn’t even supposed to be involved with Maori Television – want the service to broadcast on a second-rate UHF frequency which only reaches two-in-ten houses. Their only motivation is to get a little extra money in the coffers for Broadcast Communications Ltd, the TVNZ offshoot that owns the frequency.

“Unfortunately for Maharey, Derek Fox has stood up for his channel, and stated how dodgy the frequency is. He wants his station to be given a decent start, and he has publicly fought to be allowed to accept a deal with CanWest where the Maori Television Service would receive the TV4 frequency, and the Government would provide CanWest with radio frequencies. “I can’t imagine that any of the Maori Caucus are particularly enamoured with Maharey’s plan to dump all over the channel.

“That explains the indecision, while the continued stalemate is the result of the prime minister’s loathing of being publicly embarrassed. If Helen Clark wanted to, she could have overruled her Ministers today, and forced a decision. I suspect that she has already made up her mind if she will buy a fight with her Maori Caucus and Derek Fox, or dump on Steve Maharey et al. But the Prime Minister desperately doesn’t want to start this parliamentary session in the middle of an internal stoush. So she has told Ministers to go back to the drawing board, and bought herself some more time to engineer the spin.

“ACT New Zealand never supported the creation of this channel. But now that public money has already been pumped into it, the service should be given every opportunity to become a successful private enterprise, with no more drain on taxpayer funds. The Labour Cabinet’s indecision is pathetic, and the harm they are doing is breathtakingly hypocritical,” Miss Coddington said.

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