Labour would create new public broadcaster

Labour would create a new public broadcaster if elected on November 26.

UPDATED:  The Labour policy would mean more red tape and more borrowing, Broadcast minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said.

Labour had not said how much creating a new public broadcaster would cost, Dr Coleman said, and would end up borrowing more money to fund it.

"It would add tens of millions of dolalars a year to the $16 billion hole Labour already has in its spending plans."

He said the policy would introduce more boards and regulation to the broadcasting sector, meaing more red-tape and more costs, and that it was hard to see how that would lead to more quality Kiwi content making it onto New Zealand screens. 

"We have been very clear with where we are going with broadcasting.  We are focusing public money on getting the best possible local content onto our television screens, through NZ On Air's competitive funding mechanism while continuing to support Radio New Zealand.  It's a realistic fully funded plan, unliked Labour's." 

Ms Curran said Labour did not anticipate any extra costs to the taxpayer but would take "much needed action" in the sector.

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Labour would create a new public broadcaster if elected on November 26.

The party's broadcasting policy spokeswoman Clare Curran said this broadcaster would bring together elements of existing non-commercial public broadcasting such as TVNZ7 and Radio NZ.

Labour said the new broadcaster could include a nationwide news service and would be based on the outcomes of a public debate, to be completed within one year of winning office.

Ms Curran said the current government had axed TVNZ7 and stripped TVNZ of its public charter.

“We are currently one of the very few countries in the world without a public television broadcaster.”

A public debate would allow New Zealanders to shape the future of public broadcasting, she said, and would include a discussion of the institutional form, legislative framework and range of funding options, including the use of existing assets and dividend streams, and other international models, such as those used in Europe and the United States.

Labour said it would also continue to encourage the screen production industry, with a review of NZ On Air organisation, its goals and objectives and its models for allocating funding to local content.

It would investigate the merits of providing special tax status to low-profit limited liability content development companies which were New Zealand owned who committed to a defined programme of re-investment in their business, to encourage a competitive New Zealand digital media environment

Ms Curran said Labour would support New Zealand content and provide a stronger mechanism to deliver it.
“A strong, independent, free public broadcasting media service not driven by commercial interests is essential to an informed democracy.”

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