TVNZ mulls new PBS-style channel

Dispatch

AUCKLAND — State broadcaster Television New Zealand is developing plans for a new channel modeled on PBS in the U.S. and Australia’s SBS.

Pubcaster has been bound since March 2003 by a government-imposed charter requiring it to balance commercial imperatives with public broadcasting objectives.

But industry observers complain that TVNZ is too commercial and pubcaster execs have made no secret of their irritation at the restrictions.

TVNZ spokesman Richard Griffin says the broadcaster is investigating a channel to screen programs “that probably wouldn’t otherwise get to air.”

Plans surfaced when TVNZ abruptly canned discussions with Mai TV, a consortium of industry vets planning a regional channel in the country’s biggest city, Auckland, saying it had plans for a national channel on the frequency.

Broadcasting minister Steve Maharey is waiting for TVNZ to present a business case for the new channel.

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