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Please help us Save TVNZ 7

An open letter to Members of Parliament and election candidates

No crime. No celebrities. Just intelligent local programming. Is it too much to ask?

You probably already know that funding for New Zealand’s only public service television channel, TVNZ 7, will cease in 2012.

However, you might not know that this will make New Zealand the only developed country in the world with no public service TV channel for all citizens. Australia has five dedicated public service channels. Many developing nations do too – even the tiny nation of Botswana. You also might not be aware of how popular TVNZ 7 is.

This year the channel nearly doubled its viewership. It had 1,210,400 viewers in the four weeks starting April 18 2011 compared to 663,300 for the same period last year. It’s achieved this without the usual programme listings and despite the fact that not all Kiwis have the technology to watch it. This contradicts Government statements that the channel rates poorly. It’s growing for the same reasons that RNZ National is our most popular radio station: Kiwis love public service broadcasting.

It’s Not Just About One Channel

The abolition of TVNZ 7 might not matter so much if there was any other public service television channel in New Zealand. There isn’t.

Maori TV targets 10% of the population, Stratos is accessTV only, and our national broadcaster, TVNZ is now a fully commercial entity with its primary requirement to return a profit. And next, TVNZ wants NZ On Air to fund more commercial programming, to help TVNZ make that profit.

The Dollars: it’s Good Value

It cost New Zealand taxpayers $79 million to establish TVNZ 6 & 7 only 4 years ago. TVNZ 6 has already gone. Keeping a viable TVNZ 7 running, and some small amount of Kiwi public service television, could be achieved for only $16.25 million a year. It’s not much when you consider the $43 million loan the Government spent to bail out Mediaworks.

The Save TVNZ 7 Campaign

Fans have rallied to save the channel. Members on Facebook, and signatories to the online petition (www.savetvnz7.co.nz) comprise thousands of Kiwis passionate about TVNZ 7.

We believe New Zealanders deserve publicly funded TV that informs and entertains without simplifying and dumbingdown its programmes. If TV (and other media) expects audiences to think like 12 year olds, why would they ever aim higher? We need highquality, intelligent programming that aims to do more than just pull in advertising revenue.

We’re inviting you to join us. You can:

• sign the online petition at www.savetvnz7.co.nz
• join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/savetvnz7
• ensure your party’s broadcasting policy includes adequate
financial provision for public service television
• wear our badge and talk about public service television in NZ.

For the sake of New Zealand’s cultural wellbeing, please take this opportunity to add your voice to the many calling to save our public service television.

In the Run-up to the Election…

We’ll be asking candidates where they stand. If you believe in public service TV, like we do, we’d love to circulate your views to our members.

A Government has plenty of options to guarantee Kiwis some form of public service TV. For example, it could:

• provide funding for TVNZ 7 or similar – only $16.25m annually
• require Sky TV to contribute a percentage of profits to local production – as is the case in many countries
• allow TVNZ to reinvest profits and become the strong national broadcaster that NZ needs
• make TV1 a noncommercial public service channel.

New Zealanders deserve better than to be the only developed nation with no publicly funded quality TV channel. Kiwis want public discussion, information and entertainment that extends beyond crime and celebrity.

Because we’re worth it.


© Scoop Media

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