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Hearse, coffin protest mark death of TVNZ 7

Jun 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

By Kristen Paterson, Damon Rusden, James Paul and Alastair Reith

HUNDREDS of people joined a march to deliver a 35,000-strong petition against the closure of TVNZ 7 to Parliament today.

The public service broadcaster is due to close at midnight on Saturday as the Government refuses to extend funding established by the previous Labour government.

A black hearse and pallbearers led the procession from Wellington’s Civic Square to Parliament.

Labour Party MP Clare Curran received the petition, and was joined by MPs from Labour, the Green Party, New Zealand First and United Future.

DIFFERENT VIEW: Claire Jonas representing the channel’s 1.6 million viewers.

A mock funeral service was staged on the steps of the Parliament buildings, with politicians symbolically placing the petition in a coffin.

“Inside here is something important,” said Ms Curran, the Labour Party broadcasting spokesperson.

She accused the Government of failing to market the advertising free TVNZ 7 to viewers because they didn’t want to hurt other TVNZ channel ratings and advertising revenue.

Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman told protestors that “as citizens in a democracy we need public broadcasting”.

“They are basically selling democracy,” said protestor Philip Grimmet.

New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams challenged the National Party to increase and not cut public service broadcasting funding.

“It encourages us to think for ourselves.  And they don’t want to encourage you to think, because if we think too much we will think them out of power,” he said.

Kurt Sharp attended the protest because “we need an independent voice for citizens in this country on issues and public affairs”.

TVNZ 7 viewer Claire Jonas said she will be left with nothing to watch.  “It’s the only decent TV station we’ve got, and with no advertisements.”

Protest organiser Myles Thomas was disappointed National Party MPs did not address the crowd today. He said they have not attended any of the dozen Save TVNZ 7 meetings across the country.

“We’ve been working really hard to get a response from Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss, but we’ve had very little response from him at all,” he said.

Recent figures put TVNZ 7 viewership at 1.6 million per month.  The channel features non-commercial content such as documentaries, current affairs, arts and educational programs.

Labour MP Clare Curran has lodged a Private Members Bill to save TVNZ 7, and establish an independent broadcasting foundation to run it.

A non-partisan community action group for better public broadcasting is being founded to lobby the Government.










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