Television New Zealand chief executive Rick Ellis says he would have reservations about any overseas sale of the state broadcaster.

He says overseas ownership might undermine unbiased news coverage and be bad for democracy.

Ellis stressed it was only his point of view.

But it will surprise some.

As CEO of TVNZ he has accelerated the shift to commercialism that people in the industry have seen as preparation for a sale.

National says it has no plans for a sale and, given the state of the television industry, there are no obvious buyers.

Finance Minister Bill English is casting an eye over potential sale of state assets as policy running into next year's election.

Asked about sale prospects, Ellis said it was a matter for the Government shareholder.

"We are in public ownership and we will continue to be so," he said.

"One thing I do reflect on is that TVNZ provides a significant dawn-to-dusk news and current affairs service.

"I think we provide an unbiased, apolitical news coverage.

"If you started to think about TVNZ being foreign-owned along with pretty much every other media in the country ... hmmm," he mused.

"A media that is completely foreign-owned and the media decides it does not like the Government - I guess they can subtly or not so subtly exert influence - you can see that in the United States - with CNN versus Fox.

"It's just a point of view," Ellis added.

The newly appointed general manager of TV3 and C4, Jason Paris, also does not think TVNZ should be sold abroad.

Paris started at MediaWorks this week after defecting from TVNZ, where he was head of marketing and headed new media.

He was also Ellis' right-hand man, developing new media like and TVNZ Ondemand and many felt he was Ellis' heir apparent.

"I still believe in New Zealand ownership of a TV broadcasting company," Paris said.

"If you have just broadcasting companies that are commercially focused - without some view towards national identity and democracy - you are in danger of losing identity."

Meanwhile, Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman is looking at the future of state TV, notably the digital channels TVNZ 6 andTVNZ 7.

Taxpayer funding of $79 million for TVNZ digital channels runs out in 2012.

TVNZ is lobbying for the entertainment channel TVNZ 6 to take advertising and for TVNZ 7 to remain ad-free.

"I support TVNZ remaining for the long term as a place where people can go for local content in a commercial-free environment," said Ellis.

The Cabinet will be meeting soon to look at options for broadcasting policy.

But TVNZ providing non-commercial content - leveraging off its commercial business - would allow the Government to appease sentiment against TVNZ's commercial shift abroad, making the commercial arm more attractive if it sought buyers or investors in a partial privatisation of TVNZ.