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Burns: Government Signals For Broadcasting Distressingly Familiar

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

18 February 2009 - The Government's first signals on future broadcasting policy are not encouraging for public service television or regional New Zealand, says Labour's broadcasting spokesman Brendon Burns.

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman has indicated (Dom Post Business February 16) that he may abandon reviews of broadcasting competition, ease up on regulation, and back off on plans to extend coverage by the Freeview high-definition free-to-air service beyond the main centres.

Brendon Burns says Dr Coleman is a paid-up subscriber to the belief that broadcasting is best delivered by the market, a position well represented in the National Government. "He is saying there's more choice in content than ever before. There is a difference between width and quality. That's why Labour began review broadcasting competition to ensure appropriate regulation as television programmes increasingly converge with Internet content.

"Even if he chose not to make any policy changes on broadcasting, at least he would be better informed if he made any decisions after a thorough review.

"As a South Islander, I challenge him to name the programme content being made south of Cook Strait that reflects the lifestyles, culture and identity of the one in four New Zealanders who live here," said Brendon Burns.

"The suggestion that the Freeview platform, funded as an alternative to the Sky pay network by the Labour government, may not be extended to another 12 National-held centres is a signal of disregard for those populations.

"His idea that Freeview could be delivered by fibre optic broadband cable is also pie-in-the-sky. Last week, ICT Minister Stephen Joyce confirmed in Parliament that consideration of broadband fibre projects will take the next year - and then ten years to reach 75 percent of the population."

"What is shaping up under this Government is a back to the future recipe for broadcasting. It will again be one where the market is king, regulation is hands-off, regional New Zealand comes second and content is measured by how many channels you can afford to purchase."

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