More than 300 members of the public, some carrying a coffin draped in the New Zealand flag, gathered in Auckland last night in protest over the pending loss of public broadcasting channel TVNZ7.

The crowd packed out the Freemans Bay Community Centre in Ponsonby for a public forum meeting which opened in dramatic fashion, when four men brought a white coffin draped in the New Zealand flag with the words "Public TV Service" into the hall.

Speakers included the Labour party broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran and her green party counterpart Julie Anne Genter. Both women expressed their dismay at the pulling TVNZ7 - which is home to programmes such as Back Benches and The Court Report - and urged members of the public to write to the Government opposing the channel's decommissioning.

Miss Genter also recommended people support a completely independent national television service.


"If we can't save TVNZ7 perhaps we can get something even better - a sustainable publicly funded public broadcasting service like they have in Australia."