Dancing stars less than charitable about TVNZ

By Amanda Spratt

More shots are being fired at TVNZ over the hit television show Dancing with the Stars as Labour MP Georgina Beyer confesses she is "disappointed" about the amount of money donated to charity.

Her comments come as inside sources have told the Herald on Sunday that only about one fifth - between 20 and 28 cents - per text or phone vote goes to charity, and crowd favourite Tim Shadbolt labels the voting a "pathetic farce".

With the final of the live dance extravaganza airing tonight, TVNZ is still refusing to reveal details about the amount from each text or phone vote that goes to the contestant's charity, saying it is bound by its contract with service providers not to disclose the cost breakdown.

TVNZ previously said an "average" of 55 per cent of the net cost of voting - 99c plus GST - went to the relevant charity, with the only costs deducted being telecommunications and service provider charges.

However, a TVNZ spokeswoman has now confirmed the 55 per cent relates to the amount left after the telecommunications companies and those that count the results take their cut. Top telecommunications and television sources say this means less than 30 cents a vote goes to charity.

Beyer, who dismissed TVNZ's line that the charity aspect of the show was not necessarily the only motivation for viewers to vote, said the public should have been told.

"So why bother involving the charities then? For me the charity aspect was a major motivator to do the programme. It was a way of giving the public more of an incentive. I do have a feeling that the public have a right to know," she said.

The Labour MP, who was voted off third, said the amount her charity, the Neo-natal Trust, received was "disappointing" given she had lasted four weeks on the show.

She would not reveal how much the trust received, but it is understood to be around $1500, about a third of the fee the celebrities received each week to appear.

Beyer donated her appearance fee to three separate charities.

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt also hit out at the lack of transparency, saying the number of votes each pair received should have been disclosed to viewers.

He had been "deluged" by supporters who said they could not register a vote for him or that their vote was not immediately acknowledged but they said they had no problems voting for other contestants.

"It's far better to keep the masses ignorant," said Shadbolt.

"I believe that any system of voting that does not tell the candidates how many votes they receive and does not allow independent scrutineers to observe the vote-counting process, is little more than a pathetic farce."

TVNZ has said its voting adhered to "a fair and equitable system based on an international entertainment programme format".

However, the Australian equivalent of the show also followed the BBC format, yet each week viewers were shown a breakdown of the percentage of the final score that came from the judges and the public votes.

TVNZ spokeswoman Michele Camilleri said no details on the number or breakdown of telephone and text votes were revealed to avoid swaying people to vote for the least or most popular contestant.

TVNZ would release details of the final amounts received by each of the charities soon after the final.



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