Winston calls on govt to explain 'bail-out' of MediaWorks, owned by Johnny Foreigner

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has asked the government "to explain why it is using public funds to finance an overseas-owned radio and television network".

The company in question is MediaWorks, owned by Australia's Ironbridge Capital. MediaWorks stable includes TV3, Four, C4, RadioLive, The Rock, Kiwi FM and other media properties

Mr Peters' statement cheerfully ignores the 11.2% interest the government is charging MediaWorks on the $43 million of deferred radio spectrum licensing fees it owes to the Crown under a 2009 deal offered to all broadcasters. It's a punitive rate that certainly won't make the deal feel like much of a bail-out from Ironbridge's end.\

Today, Mr Joyce said 11.2% was a commercial rate for a company in a distressed position. Given his background in commercial radio, the minister had put the arrangement to cabinet as a whole, which had collectively approved the decision.

The New Zealand First leader was unconinced. “The government is running around telling New Zealanders how public expenditure has to be slashed while at the same time it is bailing out its mates in the media industry," Mr Peters said.

“There seems to be a different set of standards for private enterprise under this government. We are sure there are far more worthy causes to support in New Zealand at present.”

Mr Peters said the situation looks suspiciously like the government is getting some radio and television networks in line for its election year propaganda.

“The foreign-owned media chain will no doubt be grateful to the people of New Zealand for their generosity,” said Mr Peters.

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