Putting the public back in broadcasting

Published: Wed 13 Oct 2004 01:15 PM
Putting the public back in broadcasting
Green MP, Sue Kedgley is urging the Government to turn TVNZ into a genuine public broadcaster by dropping its obligation to return a dividend.
“TVNZ is in the farcical situation of having to compromise its Charter obligations to chase advertising dollars, in order to earn a big enough revenue to pay its Government shareholder a dividend, part of which is then returned in funding for Charter programming,” said Ms Kedgley, the Green Broadcasting spokesperson.
“This totally unsatisfactory arrangement of robbing Peter to pay Paul has resulted in a horrible hybrid of corporate-style commercialism and vaguely public-oriented ‘infotainment’ that only rarely delivers a consistent standard of quality television.
“TVNZ’s obligation must be to meet the terms of its Charter, produce quality, locally-made programmes. It can only do that through guaranteed Government funding that is not dependant on how much advertising it runs.”
Ms Kedgley said she fully supported chief executive, Ian Fraser’s ambition to ‘reshape TVNZ as a true public broadcaster’, but warned that it would have to regain the public’s confidence in the way it operated.
“The present arrangement by which TVNZ announces at the end of each year how it has allocated its Charter funding is totally unsatisfactory,” said Ms Kedgley. “There should be at least the same transparent accounting for Charter programmes as there is for programmes that receive funding from New Zealand on Air.”
Ms Kedgley also took issue with the present TVNZ culture that promoted an image of corporate excess.
“The days of astronomical salaries for ‘star’ staff, excessive self-promotion and long lunches on the company credit card must end,” said Ms Kedgley. “Frankly, it is appalling that an entity with ambitions to be a genuine public broadcaster has been paying $60,000 a year to maintain a private box at the Wellington stadium.”

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