New gov’t to revamp TVNZ

AUCKLAND – The future of Kiwi pubcaster TVNZ, along with pay TV sporting rights, is now uncertain following the formation of a coalition government.

Responding to viewers’ concerns about a lack of choice, too much commercialism and the loss of free to air viewing rights for key sports like rugby, the coalition is promising a broadcasting shakeup.

The center-right National-New Zealand First Coalition says it will consider reducing advertising on TVNZ’s upmarket TVOne to 10 minutes an hour (in peak time, advertising currently runs to about 12 minutes, but with promos goes to 14-15).

More important, the coalition has vowed not to sell either TVOne or TV2. Instead, TV2 is to be re-structured as a public entity with private sector management to improve its performance and to subsidize TVOne’s de-commercialization.

The coalition may in time move toward measures aimed at retaining key sports rights – a move some of its members promised before the October election. This is reaction to the way top rugby events were snapped up this year by the TCI-Time Warner owned paybox Sky.

The moves were announced the day after the formation of the coalition. Details has yet to be worked out, but if the changes go ahead, they will represent the biggest restructuring of Kiwi broadcasting since deregulation seven years ago.

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