The Governments decision to provide six years of special funding for TVNZ to establish two new digital channels has been applauded by Chief Executive Rick Ellis.
This is a momentous day for TVNZ. It is the key factor that will enable us to move confidently into the digital future, alongside the independent production community, to pursue our goal of providing the best New Zealand programming wherever and whenever New Zealanders want to see it.
This investment means we can go full ahead on creating the kind of channels that will be of such clear value that New Zealanders will embrace digital technology with enthusiasm, to the great benefit of the country as a whole, he said.
We know that viewers want more choice and more freedom about when and how to watch. We know they want more shared family viewing, and we know that they want commercial-free services. We can now deliver on all these things in a way that significantly reflects our national identity.
Mr Ellis said the rigorous processes involved in reaching the funding decision had been no easy ride for TVNZ.
We have been challenged repeatedly to validate our plans. I see it as a mark of confidence in TVNZ that the Government has accepted our expertise, and acknowledged that TVNZ, as the public broadcaster, has the commitment and motivation to take the leadership role in opening up the potential of free-to-air digital television services for New Zealanders.
Mr Ellis said the economic reality was that TVNZ would need assistance to launch commercial-free channels of the calibre that would truly expand public broadcasting, while at the same time maintaining the influence and performance of its core channels, TV ONE and TV2.
However TVNZ would be accountable for that investment, and the public would get value for money.
Depending on which of the services we are talking about, between 60 to 80 per cent of the operating budget will end up where it should be on screen.
With the support of FreeView and the independent production sector we are confident we can launch these channels late next year and early in 08, and make New Zealands digital broadcasting future a reality.