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TVNZ now an official cash cow, not a broadcaster

9 December 2009 Media Statement

TVNZ now an official cash cow, not a broadcaster

The bill abolishing the Television New Zealand charter is the latest step by the Government toward making TVNZ a cash cow and ending any requirement to behave as a state broadcaster, says Labour’s broadcasting spokesman Brendon Burns.

The Television New Zealand Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament today.

Brendon Burns says the bill guts the requirement that TVNZ be anything more than a revenue machine for Government.

“The TVNZ Charter obliged Television New Zealand to have programming that informed and educated audiences, as well as entertain them; it required TVNZ to maintain the highest standards of programme quality and editorial integrity; to cater for a variety of audiences.

“These requirements are now replaced with a prescription to maintain commercial performance. This means programmes that pull ratings and advertising dollars.”

Brendon Burns said TVNZ had a dual mandate until this year to make a return and also deliver some programming that only a state broadcaster would provide.

“The gutting of the charter is part of a strategy by this National/ACT Government. Make TVNZ a mirror of its commercial rivals; then say it is no different and put it up for sale as soon as politically possible.”

Brendon Burns said that meanwhile TVNZ is being told to crank out an extra $30m in dividends over the next five years, with a second round of major job cuts now being planned for next year.

“TVNZ is regarded by this Government as no more than a squeeze box for its financial demands and political convenience. While no excuse, this provides the context for TVNZ’s recent fawning promotion of its shareholding Minister in the Plain English adverts, which it now accepts was wrong.

“Now the Charter’s commitments have gone, and they are replaced simply by a requirement to provide the Minister with a dividend flow, his capacity to be a repeat beneficiary of inept TVNZ favours is only increased,” Brendon Burns said.

ENDS

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