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Minister demands TVNZ dividend as jobs cut

16 March 2009 Media Statement
Minister callously demands TVNZ dividend as jobs cut

Television New Zealand’s shedding of 90 jobs today is in part driven by callous government demands for a dividend from TVNZ, says Labour’s broadcasting spokesman Brendon Burns.

TVNZ announced 90 proposed redundancies across the company as it struggles to save $25 million in costs amid an advertising down-turn.

Brendon Burns says as the job losses loomed last week, Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman was adamant that there would be no easing up on the dividend from TVNZ.

He said: ‘We are not doing bailouts of TVNZ; they're going to have to return that dividend.’

“This is not just callous indifference; it shows the true face of this government in putting dividends ahead of people.

“We have the Government calling for other employers to show restraint and hold jobs, but at the same time it insists on its TVNZ dividend while jobs are shed.

“A bail-out is considered appropriate for one iconic private New Zealand company still making a profit, but there is no easing up on an iconic state-owned company. The rhetoric of the Government at the Jobs Summit is now shown for what it is – empty words.”

Brendon Burns says Dr Coleman has also stated in a recent answer to a Parliamentary Question that he is not yet sure about a public service role for state broadcasting

“The government’s agenda is now unmasked. Today has seen the first step towards gutting TVNZ and then selling it off to the private sector. “

ENDS

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