MediaWorks is setting up a foundation to help disadvantaged children - a week after disclosing a review of its Campbell Live programme that has campaigned against child poverty.
News presenter Mike McRoberts told a Philanthropy NZ conference in Auckland that the new MediaWorks Foundation would focus on two initial objectives: "To improve the life chances for disadvantaged children and young people, and to prevent the abuse, neglect and maltreatment of children."
Spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said the company consulted widely about the idea. "We asked the public, our customers and our staff to tell us about the issues they feel passionately about.
"Based on feedback from almost 27,000 New Zealanders, the most important issues facing our country today are child poverty and child abuse, neglect and maltreatment. We have decided to focus on supporting positive work that addresses these."
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The announcement surprised groups trying to save Campbell Live, which has campaigned on the issue of hungry children and raised more than $1.5 million for the KidsCan charity through texts from viewers.
"I personally find it deeply ironic," said Marianne Elliott, whose ActionStation website has collected more than 70,000 signatures from people asking the company to keep Campbell Live.
"I can also affirm the importance, to many of our members, of the coverage Campbell Live has given to the issue of child poverty in New Zealand, it's one of the specific reasons many people have given for their loyalty to and support for the show," she said.
Social work lecturer Phil Harington, who heard McRoberts speak at the conference, said host John Campbell had helped to generate "a spirit of giving" in the public that a new foundation would find hard to match.
Ms Lorimer said the company was not ready yet to announce trustees or funding.