The government has shown an odd bias in supporting MediaWorks, while letting public service broadcasting go to hell in a handcart.
TVNZ submitted a business case to the government asking for more funding for TVNZ7 but the request was turned down.
TVNZ chairman Sir John Anderson confirmed the move to Parliament's commerce select committee.
The government has refused to extend funding to TVNZ’s digital public service broadcasting offering TVNZ7 beyond June next year.
However, the government has happily given a handout to TVNZ competitor MediaWorks, in the form of a government-initiated deferral of payments scheme worth $43 million.
The deal has enabled MediaWorks to renew its broadcasting licence fees.
TVNZ has already slashed its public service broadcasting offering, turning digital channel TVNZ6 into a youth-focused commercial channel.
A spokesman from Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman's office pointed out that the funding was only ever for a set period and there was never a suggestion it would continue.
The government’s refusal of TVNZ’s business case has angered Green MP Sue Kedgley, who says that in spite of Mr Coleman’s assurances that it won’t sell off TVNZ, it’s obvious the government is readying it for sale.
Mr Coleman instructed TVNZ at its last board meeting that it should be a solely commercial operation, focused on pursuing ratings and returning a profit.
Ms Kedgley is concerned the lack of funding for TVNZ7 will leave New Zealand without a public service television channel besides Maori Television.
She said the government is intent on favouring private broadcasting interests over the state broadcaster.
“The government turned down the [business case] because it does not believe in public service television, and has no interest in retaining a public service television channel,” she said.
“Some within the cabinet seem intent on kneecapping TVNZ while supporting schemes that assist private media corporations.”