15 Dec 2009

Lower ad revenue seen as worse than end to TVNZ charter

10:38 pm on 15 December 2009

Television New Zealand's head of Maori programmes, Paora Maxwell, believes the recession is a greater threat to Maori content than axing the channel's public charter.

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman has moved charter funding of $15 million into a contestable fund for minority interest programmes open to all broadcasters and has introduced legislation to scrap the charter that Labour introduced seven years ago.

Under new rules, TVNZ will be asked to reflect Maori perspectives rather than have a significant Maori voice.

Mr Maxwell told Waatea News the bulk of TVNZ's income comes from advertising rather than Government sources, and a dramatic drop in ad revenue means the pressure is on to cut costs by buying more international programmes.

Hiowever, he said programmes such as as Te Karere, Marae and Waka Huia are likely to continue uninterrupted.

Undermines Maori issues commitment - Goff

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says dropping the TVNZ charter will undermine the broadcaster's commitment to covering Maori issues.

Mr Goff told Waatea News it is a way to soften the public broadcaster for privatisation.

He says the charter didn't deliver on Labour's hopes for better current affairs and Maori coverage, but its removal will guarantee the situation will get worse.

Mr Goff says New Zealanders are entitled to expect more out of a television channel they own.