1 Nov 2011

Labour would merge RNZ into new public broadcaster

1:52 pm on 1 November 2011

The Labour Party says it would merge Radio New Zealand and the non-commercial TVNZ7 channel to produce a new non-commercial public broadcaster if it was elected to Government.

The party also wants to create a single powerful regulator for the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.

Labour's broadcasting spokesperson, Claire Curran, says the party would consult the public on how its policy would be implemented.

"People do not want to lose TVNZ7," she said of the channel which is ending in June next year when its funding runs out.

"There is a gap in our market at the moment. We do not have a public television broadcaster, ever since Television New Zealand's charter got stripped from it."

Ms Curran says Labour would also introduce greater independence for public broadcasting by having appointments to the board of the new public broadcaster made by an independent trust, whose members would be appointed in consultation with the Opposition.

The industry group representing free-to-air television, ThinkTV, says the proposal needs fleshing out.

Chief executive Rick Friesen says radio and television operate quite differently and running the two together may not necessarily be good for either.

Mr Friesen says the policy appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to keep TVNZ7.

National Party broadcasting spokesperson Jonathan Coleman says it's yet another Labour policy announcement with no costings.

He says more money would need to be borrowed to pay for it adding to the $16 billion hole Labour already has in its spending plans.