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Broadcasting Policy Shows Inexperience

MEDIA STATEMENT

28 September 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BROADCASTING POLICY SHOWS LABOUR’S INEXPERIENCE IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

The Labour Party’s intention to introduce local content quotas on broadcasters is inconsistent with our World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations, and shows Labour’s inexperience in international affairs, according to Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.

“Under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the imposition of local content quotas in broadcasting services would be contrary to New Zealand’s specific commitments on audio-visual services,” Dr Smith said.

“Article XVI of the GATS provides a list of measures that should not be adopted by World Trade Organisation Members unless otherwise specified in their schedules of commitments. Article XVI (c) refers to ‘… limitations … on the total quantity of service output expressed in terms of designated numerical units in the form of quotas…’.

“New Zealand takes its WTO obligations very seriously because of the benefits they give to our exporters. New Zealand’s export community is well aware that maintaining access to markets involves a considerable effort, and as a small country, New Zealand has been well served by the rules-based approach provided by the WTO.

“It’s clear that Labour hasn’t fully considered the valid concerns of our exporting community in the development of its broadcasting policy. Major exporters of audio-visual services in offshore markets follow local content issues assiduously, and if Labour’s policy were implemented, New Zealand could well face requests for compensation from other WTO members.

“In any case, CER means that Australian productions would count as local content within Labour’s proposed quota, meaning that the policy would have little, if any, effect on the development of New Zealand’s broadcasting industry.

“Labour’s policy is poorly thought out. Our special relationship with Australia means that the policy is unlikely to achieve its basic objective, whilst threatening New Zealand’s sound reputation as a solid, reliable Member of the WTO,” Dr Smith concluded.

ENDS

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