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Digital future takes shape without a key ingredient

30 November 2010

Media Statement

Digital future takes shape without a key ingredient

Today’s launch of a website promoting digital television begs the big question about what people will be able to watch on their screens in future , says Labour’s broadcasting spokesman Brendon Burns.

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman has unveiled the Going Digital campaign to promote the switch, region by region, to digital television by November 2013.

Brendon Burns says that’s a good time-frame, but the benefits of going digital need to include some free-to-air channels that still remain under a cloud.

“For months now, people in the television industry have been awaiting some announcement from Dr Coleman on the future of the non-commercial channels TVNZ 6 and 7.

“There were big expectations that he would unveil his master plan for the future of the channels at the Spada conference earlier this month. Instead the audience listened to a very pedestrian speech.

“It seems the Broadcasting Minister is yet to come up with a proposal that the Finance Minister will accept, and that even commercialising TVNZ6, which includes 12 hours of advert-free children’s programming daily, isn’t enough for Mr English.”

Brendon Burns says TVNZ 6 and 7 are important to the future of digital television as they were two of the key components in establishing the Freeview platform as an alternative to pay TV.

“The funding for TVNZ 6 and 7 runs out in little more than a year,” Brendon Burns said. “Having a non-commercial public service broadcasting presence is important into our digital future. Otherwise it will just be a lot more channels with higher visual quality foreign-dominated programmes.

“If the Government is going to make major changes to current TVNZ channels, it should tell New Zealanders now.”

ENDS

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