Gov't attempting to make TVNZ public service b'caster

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Commercial-free children’s TV viewing may soon be a reality if New Zealand’s new Centre-Left government has its way.

Broadcasting minister Marian Hobbs is meeting with the advertising industry over the issue — a sensitive one for the television industry, which exists almost entirely on advertising.

Hobbs and the Labor-led Government are promoting the move through pubcaster TVNZ. The Government is fine-tuning the web, removing its current profit priorities with the intention of making TVNZ more of a public service broadcaster. At the moment it operates like a private company, though it is owned by the government.

Hobbs hopes to influence other broadcasters, by discussing the issue with advertisers and by seeking a wider ban.

“It would then apply to other channels as well” said a spokesman for Hobbs’ office.

TVNZ has reacted by saying broadcasters already followed a voluntary code restricting advertising to 10 minutes an hour during programs for preschoolers, and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., when after-school shows screen.

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