Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran said it would not have served any purpose by going public when she discovered that RNZ bosses had been misled by former news executive Carol Hirschfeld about a meeting between them.

She said her office twice contacted Radio New Zealand to correct it.

"Whether or not Carol should have asked her bosses for permission [about the meeting] is a matter for her," she told TV1's Q and A programme today.

She did not understand why Hirschfeld had misled her bosses but Curran said she had done the right thing in only contacting RNZ.

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"I didnt believe going public would serve any purpose."

Hirschfeld was forced to resign last week after her RNZ bosses discovered that the meeting between Curran and Hirschfeld 20 days earlier had been pre-arranged, and was not a chance encounter as Hirschfeld had repeatedly told them.

Curran's office rang RNZ communications manager John Barr on March 1 and March 20 after realising RNZ bosses had told a select committee the meeting had been a chance one.

Curran rejected a suggestion that her meeting had undermined the RNZ board because she had possible differences with the board to add a non-commercial television channel to RNZ.

Curran said the only mistake she herself had made was to initially not include the breakfast meeting in a list of official meetings she had been about in a written parliamentary question.


Curran remains committed to establishing the television channel at RNZ as part of Labour's Radio New Zealand Plus policy despite concerns it could affect existing channels, including state-owned TVNZ.

She did not believe it would hurt TVNZ in the short term, although she had been talking to it about its future.

She has put no timeframe on the changes she has in mind, and she said there was no difference of opinion between RNZ and her on the plans.

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"There is no division between RNZ and the minister on this issue," she said.

"There is an acknowledgement that evolving RNZ into RNZ Plus is going to take time and the focus will be on moving the platforms multimedia in a gradual way, depending on how much money is available to do it," she said.

"It's going to take time. I just urge everybody to hold your horses and wait for the evolution of those plans to start to unfold."

Labour's manifesto earmarked $38 million for the expansion of RNZ into television and for increased funding for NZ on Air.

Asked if it she would proceed even if the plans hurt state broadcaster TVNZ by taking audience off them, Curran said New Zealand was the only country in the OECD without a non-commercial public channel.

TVNZ's advertising revenue would not be hurt because RNZ would not be running ads.
"There is a thirst in New Zealand for more New Zealand-made content in the public interest. There is a huge gap," she said.

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"I do not believe that TVNZ in the short term will be hurt by that.

"Beyond that, though, there is a question about TVNZ's future …we have to have those discussions. I have already started having some initial discussions with TVNZ."

She said she had told TVNZ to carry on with the model within which it currently operates "and to look for opportunities."

"A joint venture is one of those opportunities…I'd certainly be open to talking to TVNZ more about it."
She would not comment on rumours that TVNZ could partner with Spark over television rights for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Asked about regulation of Face Book and Google which took large amounts of advertising revenue without content, she said it was a valid question.

One of the most important issues was the extent to which technology giants were accessing people's data.

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An updated privacy law was awaiting a first reading and would provide an opportunity to assess whether the proposed changes were adequate.

She said she had already been talking to with companies such as Amazon, Face Book and Netflix around classification standards and content regulation.

"That could look like a consistent set of classification codes across content on those platforms, the ability for people to make complaints and for there to be some way in having those complaints heard."

Curran has previously announced that she has put the Digital Convergence Bill on hold to address inconsistencies between classification for traditional broadcast content and online content through on-demand sites.