Rally to stop station shutdown

By By Nathan Crombie

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About 100 people attended a Save TVNZ 7 meeting in Masterton on Monday to oppose the shutdown of the public service channel.

The station will close at the end of this month after the Government decided to cut its funding on June 30. The channel will become TV One Plus One.

The Save TVNZ 7 group and opposition politicians have held meetings throughout the country to raise support for the channel, and have collected signatures for a petition.

The meeting at the Masterton Town Hall was moderated by media commentator Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury and featured speakers including media expert Dr Wayne Hope, Green Party broadcasting spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter, and Labour MP and former television journalist Kris Faafoi.

Dr Hope said ahead of the meeting that he was impressed by the turnout at meetings, particularly a Wellington gathering that attracted 1200 people.

He said it wasn't "outside the realms of possibility" that a digital public service channel could rise from the ashes of TVNZ 7 after the digital transmission switch-over in September.

"It wouldn't be difficult to re-establish after the switch-over. All you need is a designated frequency and a policy rewrite It's just about the political will."

He said the lobby group is also working on a legal challenge to the closure.

Dr Hope told the meeting a public service channel "to reflect our national identity and ensure universality of access" was vital in New Zealand, which had one of the most deregulated and commercial broadcasting industries in the world.

He said the popularity of TVNZ 7 had shown to be increasing and with the switch-over its audience would most likely have continued to grow.

Mr Faafoi said commercial television was failing a growing number of Kiwis.

"Telling New Zealand stories is very important. Commercial television doesn't work for a lot of New Zealanders anymore. It's about keeping it Kiwi and keeping our commitment to quality public broadcasting."

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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