INDEPENDENT NEWS

Will Ministers Kill Maori Television?

Published: Mon 2 Dec 2002 02:05 PM
Will Ministers Kill Maori Television?
Today Cabinet must decide if it will deliberately consign the new Maori Television Service to failure by forcing it to use a second-rate platform, ACT Commerce Spokesman Deborah Coddington said.
"This is an acid test of Ministers' resolve. Key ministers, including Steve Maharey who isn't even supposed to have anything to do with Maori Television, are determined to force Maori Television to broadcast on a second-rate UHF frequency from Broadcast Communications (BCL), the struggling company that used to be a cash-cow for ailing Television New Zealand.
"Faced with opposition from Derek Fox, will Cabinet back down, or will the Ministers go ahead and cynically compromise Maori Television purely to shore up state-owned BCL?
"If they choose the second option, I eagerly look forward to Mr Maharey and his friends explaining exactly who will pay for households to have aerials installed for UHF reception, and how much more money will they pump into the station to create the massive marketing campaign needed to show people how to tune into the channel.
"ACT New Zealand opposed the creation of this channel. We do not believe it is the Government's place to own television stations. But now that Labour has committed taxpayers to pumping millions of dollars into the service, it must be given the best possible platform so it can become a successful private enterprise, with no more drain on taxpayer funds.
"Today we will find out if Labour politicians share our determination for the service to succeed, or if they will callously kill off Maori Television's best chance," Miss Coddington said.

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