Thursday, 5 May 2005

Regional TV To Receive Government Funding

"Broadcasting Minister, Steve Maharey, has announced a multi million dollar investment in New Zealand's regional television and Access Radio stations.

The Government's set aside $3.5 million for regional television, over the four years. Non-commercial radio will get another $900,000 over the same period.

It's the first form of Government funding for regional TV, since the State-owned Horizon Pacific Television Network was closed in 1997.

(Horizon Pacific TV was owned by TVNZ, and operated 5 stations - ATV (Auckland), Coast to Coast Television (Hamilton), Capital City Television (Wellington), Southern Television (Dunedin), and CTV (Christchurch) which they bought from Joanna McMenamin along the way).

Chairman of the Regional Television Broadcasting Association, Jim Blackman, believes it's a clear signal that the Government recognises the worth of regional television, and the role it plays in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, CEO of Allied Press's TV Division, Daryl Clarkson, says the funding has been a long time coming, and he's cautiously optimistic about the decision."

A small amount good news from the Government for local television in New Zealand... even if the announcement did have to come from Smarmy Maharey ;-)

Regional News was a key part of State TV's news coverage in the days before deregulation, with shows like The Top Half (out of Auckland), Today Tonight (Wellington), The Mainland Touch (Christchurch), and The South Tonight (Dunedin).

There are apparently 12 "regional" stations on air around New Zealand, however only four or five of these are broadcasting any form of local news and current affairs programming - surely the reason d'etre for any local television station?!

Even CTV in Christchurch (the market most capable of supporting a local station, based on population and location) decided to drop its nightly news programme this year, in favour of a basic headlines service... along with a weekly "News in Review" type programme, Southern Week, which compiles stories from CTV and Channel 9, and screens in Dunedin, Christchurch, and Auckland.

Hopefully, NZ on Air will see sense and set up a good contestable system for allocating this new funding... to help ensure the money goes towards serving local communities with quality news and current affairs coverage, rather than just giving out free handouts to anyone who happens to be operating a "local tv" transmitter in New Zealand.

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  1. Ken Westmoreland Says:

    I thought it was a crying shame when Horizon Pacific stations were axed - not so much because they were 'regional' (apart from the branding, there wasn't anything regional about them) but rather because they offered documentary programming.

    However, why they carried exactly the same 'One Network News' as TV One- as then was - at exactly the same time, escaped me.

    Horizon Pacific could and should have become a Kiwi equivalent of SBS in Australian or Channel 4 in the UK.

    With some financial assistance, perhaps the channels can start buying ABC Asia pacific news and other programmes, or SBS ones.