Maori Television Response to TVNZ Maori Strategy

3 09 2007

Maori Television has questioned the intent of TVNZ’s plan, announced yesterday, to significantly increase its Maori programming content.

Maori Television Chief Executive Jim Mather has described the state broadcaster’s newly developed Maori strategy as a threat to Maori Television’s future and to its funding base.

Mr Mather said TVNZ had taken a competitive approach to its relationship with Maori Television and this was demonstrated by its decision to attack Maori programming funding administered by Te Mangai Paho.

“This is a serious issue for Maori Television and for our future. Te Mangai Paho funding is expressly available to ensure the development of programming that supports the revitalisation of te reo Maori. Maori Television is reliant upon this funding as our primary source for programming content,” said Mr Mather.

“Last year, TVNZ earned $334 million in advertising revenue and each year receives around $50 million of programmes funded by NZ On Air, $5 million in direct funding from Te Mangai Paho for Maori-specific programming, and $12 million for charter programming which, according to its charter document, includes Maori content. In addition, TVNZ has received an additional $79 million (over six years) to fund content for its two new digital channels, which it has stated will broadcast these new programmes.

“Aside from the $334 million in revenue, TVNZ receives a total of approximately $80 million per year in tax-payer funding. Now it intends to attack funding set aside for Maori language programming in order to produce programmes that Maori Television is already broadcasting.”

Mr Mather said Maori Television had recently approached TVNZ to explore the potential for the two public broadcasters to work in a collaborative, rather than competitive, manner. Maori Television had developed what he believed was a sound, logical and robust plan for the two to work together to reduce production and programming costs, resulting in a better and more responsible spend of taxpayer funds. However, TVNZ had rejected Maori Television’s approach outright.

Mr Mather said TVNZ’s claim in its media release yesterday that an agreement existed between the two broadcasters to share programming was incorrect. TVNZ is required by legislation to make its archives available to Maori Television and is also required by funding agencies to allow Maori Television second play rights on programmes fully funded by those agencies. However, no direct formal agreement exists between Maori Television and TVNZ.

He said TVNZ’s expectation that Maori Television would automatically repeat the new Maori programmes it intended to produce was misplaced. Maori Television was an independent broadcaster with a schedule and programming style that vastly differed to that of TVNZ, and would make its schedule decisions based on its programming strategy and reo Maori content needs.

Footnote:

– Maori Television’s annual funding is comprised of an $11.5 million operational grant from Vote Maori Affairs and $16 million in direct funding from Te Mangai Paho to fund in-house programmes.

– Maori Television is required to compete against all other broadcasters for the $25 million of Te Mangai Paho contestable funding, a fund that is critical to enable Maori Television to commission programming supplied by independent producers. In FY07 $19 million of the contestable fund was applied to programmes for Maori Television.

– Maori Television also receives a minimal level of funding from NZ On Air, which was used to fund initiatives with a broader public appeal such as its ANZAC Day broadcast.

– Maori Television recently received via this year’s Budget $23 million over four years to fund its ability to participate in the industry’s transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

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