TVNZ to drop new obligation

10:05 AM, 17 May 2012

TVNZ wants to ditch its legislated obligation to provide an advertising platform in the lead-up to a general election, saying the low-rating broadcasts go against its new remit to act as a commercially successful company, reports NBR.

The broadcaster says the opening and closing addresses for the 2011 general election attracted significantly lower ratings than the corresponding nights a year earlier, with total audience across the three nights an average 20% lower. "This places TVNZ at a serious commercial disadvantage to its competitors," TVNZ general counsel Brent McAnulty said in a submission to Parliament's justice and electoral select committee, which is holding an inquiry into the 2011 general election. "It is no longer appropriate for a commercial entity such as TVNZ to be required to provide coverage free of charge when such coverage affects its revenue and when its competitors face no such obligation," Mr McAnulty said.

TVNZ says audiences are "increasingly disinterested" in the opening and closing statements, because of the sophistication of political advertising, the increased use of social media to communicate messages, wider sources of information for voters to tap into, and a noisier political landscape with more parties.

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