TVNZ LAUNCHES ITS PUBLIC BROADCASTING CHARTER | MEDIA RELEASES | [an error occurred while processing this directive]

A new era in New Zealand broadcasting will be ushered in tomorrow as TVNZ begins to give effect to its Charter.

For the past 14 years, TVNZ has operated as a State Owned Enterprise with a purely commercial focus. The TVNZ Bill, which was passed into law yesterday, splits the existing TVNZ Group into a television company (TVNZ) and a new transmission company (Transmission Holdings Limited) from 1st July 2003. The legislation requires TVNZ to balance its commercial performance with a set of public broadcasting objectives, set out in the Charter.

Chief Executive Ian Fraser says that this is an exhilarating moment for TVNZ. "It's an opportunity for us to prove that we can reflect New Zealand to New Zealanders even better than we've been doing - that we can offer a richer and more diverse view of our world and grow the business at the same time."

"The Charter reinforces the fact that TVNZ is 'The New Zealander'. We are the only television company owned by New Zealanders and so we are uniquely placed to provide the programmes, the information and entertainment that promote a deeper, shared sense of what it means to be a New Zealander.

"We're not starting from the ground up. We're taking an established vehicle and infusing it with fresh ideas and energy. What will become apparent over time is that this really is new generation New Zealand television that we are introducing, within the framework of the TVNZ Charter.

Mr Fraser says that TVNZ is, in some respects, a singular sort of public broadcaster. On the one hand, TVNZ's new mandate is to give effect to the Charter. But it is also charged to maintain commercial performance. This means that TVNZ cannot operate as a 'pure' public broadcaster, fully funded from the public purse, but will need to continue to demonstrate a strong ratings performance over its whole schedule.

"What will change is the balance," Mr Fraser said. "Under the Charter we will be driven by content considerations, where creative and cultural objectives are as highly valued as commercial ones. This does not mean 'worthy but dull'. Nor does it mean we are becoming elitist. We are constructing a home place for more New Zealanders, not an ivory tower for a few of them.

"But the Charter encourages us to invest in talent and imagination, to take creative risks and to provide a more diverse menu, particularly in prime time when most people are watching television. We believe we can do all of that without taking the sort of doctrinaire approach that could weaken a sound business.

"It's worth making the point that the Charter is not a licence to bore our viewers. If we do our job well (and we will!), we expect that our viewers will have difficulty identifying what is, or is not, a Charter programme. Put simply, the Charter becomes the blueprint from which all programming decisions are made from now on.

"We are tremendously excited about the opportunities the Charter creates both for us and our viewers. Some differences are already apparent. Change will be more obvious from now on. Our task now is to make sure that watching this space becomes a measurably more satisfying and fulfilling experience for every New Zealander."

For further information, contact:
Glen Sowry, Head of Public Affairs on 09-916 7565 or 021-461 775. 

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