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Māori TV CEO responds to inaccuracies in NZ Herald article

30 March 2012

Māori Television Chief Executive responds to inaccuracies in NZ Herald articles

In his presentation to the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Conference (WITBC) held in Norway, Jim Mather responded to articles in the NZ Herald, describing them as ‘inaccurate and damaging to the credibility and reputation of Maori Television’.

Two recent articles in the NZ Herald covering Maori Television’s involvement in WITBC stated that the organisation had declined to reveal costs of attendance, had incorrect titles for conference attendees and also suggested that Maori Television was lobbying to take over general public broadcasting.

‘We’re extremely disappointed by the nature of these articles’, says Mather. ‘In particular, we pride ourselves on our fiscal prudence and willingness to be accountable for public funding. We never declined to provide details of costs and I can now confirm that the total amount is $24,500’. This budgeted figure covers economy flights, accommodation, expenses and registration. ‘The inference in both articles that this conference has minimal value has no basis’.

Mather also stated that reference to Maori Television lobbying to take over general interest public broadcasting is untrue. ‘Although it is logical that other third parties would consider Maori Television an obvious future option for continuation of public broadcasting services, our core focus is on our Maori language and cultural mandate’.

Mather is attending the world’s largest indigenous broadcasters’ conference with Haunui Royal (General Manager Programming), Carol Hirschfeld (General Manager Production), Julian Wilcox (Presenter and Associate Producer, Native Affairs) and Shannon Haunui-Thompson (Producer, Indigenous Insight). The conference, which is being hosted by NRK Sami TV and Radio in Norway, provides tangible benefits such as gaining access to current affairs and news content, developing co-productions and programme sharing amongst members.

Jean LaRose, CEO of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network of Canada also reinforced the value of attending: ‘The (WITBN) network is providing an opportunity as indigenous broadcasters to share our programmes, share our news and share our stories. It’s about minimising costs for broadcasters’.

The Chair of WITBN and Director of Norway’s indigenous broadcaster NRK Sami TV and Radio, Nils Johan Heatta, expressed his disappointment at the NZ Herald stereotyping Sami people as only having expertise in ‘reindeer husbandry and herding’.

‘We are a proud, indigenous people committed to utilising broadcasting as a means of revitalising our language and culture’, says Mr Heatta.


• The articles mentioned above are: ‘Five Maori TV executives sent on expedition to Arctic’, printed on page 2 of the NZ Herald on 27 March 2012 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10794830) and ‘TV staff a-Twitter over trip’, printed on 28 March on page 3 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10794970).

• Maori Television is a founding member of the network for Indigenous Broadcasters, a global alliance which aims to unify television broadcasters worldwide to retain and grow indigenous languages and cultures. There are 12 members of the WITBN including BBC Alba Scotland, S4C Wales, TG4 Ireland, NITV Australia, Taiwan Indigenous Television, ‘Oiwi TV of Hawaii, Thai PBS and the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network of Canada who are also attending.

• WITBN was formed after Maori Television convened the inaugural World Indigenous Broadcasters Conference in Auckland in 2008. Its mission is to unify Indigenous television broadcasters worldwide in the pursuit of preserving and fostering indigenous languages and cultures.



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