Wellington, July 7 NZPA - Television New Zealand should be released from its charter obligations and have to compete for the associated funding with all other broadcasters, National Party broadcasting spokesman Jonathan Coleman said.
Dr Coleman released National's broadcasting policy today with the charter policy as its centrepiece.
TVNZ operates under a charter which encourages it to show programmes that reflect New Zealand and in return gets $15 million as such broadcasts may not be commercially viable.
Dr Coleman said a National government would give that money to New Zealand On Air, which would invite all free-to-air channels and independent producers to pitch for state investment in their projects.
"The freeing up of direct charter funding to competition will unshackle TVNZ from the dual mandate that Labour imposed on the broadcaster through the charter," Dr Coleman said.
"We are not going to have legislative mandated priorities for TVNZ. If they want to maintain the charter then that will be an internal matter for them.
"Basically the whole reason the charter is there is related to the funding and we are going to take the charter funding and make it contestable."
National believed the dual mandate to make money and to meet charter obligations had led to the failure of the charter.
The charter was just a "meaningless bunch of mission statements" and it was impossible to measure TVNZ's performance against them, Dr Coleman said
There have been arguments about what a charter programme was and what the money should be spent on.
Recently the Government stripped TVNZ of the power to decide what it should spend the $15 million on and said instead it would have to apply on a programme by programme basis.
It was not guaranteed it would get the entire allocation.
Dr Coleman said making the charter funding fully contestable and would bring some transparency into what it was being used for.
"We will get better public broadcasting from the charter money," Dr Coleman said.
Other aspects of the policy release today include:
* Retaining ownership of all current state broadcasters, and maintaining support for the Freeview platform;
* Demanding clear accountability for the $79 million of direct funding that goes to TVNZ 6 & 7;
* Continued support for Maori Television;
* Analogue switch-off by 2015. The final date will be confirmed once 75 percent of households have digital, or 2012, whichever occurs first;
* Continued funding for Radio NZ National, Pacific Radio Trust, and Access Radio; and
* Regular publication of rating/audience/household penetration data for any broadcasting entity receiving state funding.