Hobbs announces sweeping look at broadcasting issues

A jam-packed new broadcasting issues initiative will cover telecommunications, the Internet and 'the future direction of TVNZ', says Broadcasting minister Marion Hobbs.

A jam-packed new broadcasting issues initiative will cover telecommunications, the Internet and "the future direction of TVNZ", says Broadcasting minister Marion Hobbs.

Hobbs announced yesterday that Cabinet had approved an extensive - and apparently briskly-paced - work programme and timetable for the development of broadcasting issues.

"Rapid and continual change is the feature of the convergent industries of telecommunications, media, the Internet and other electronic distribution systems," she said. "No sector of society or the economy will remain unaffected by these forces of change. Government decisions on broadcasting issues need to take account of all these factors."

"We will be consulting with the public and interested groups as the work programme is implemented," she said.

Regulatory issues will be covered in a planned policy paper on platform and technology issues. Hobbs said "appropriate account" would be taken of the work of the ministerial inquiry into telecommunications which was looking at similar issues in the telecommunications sector,

The paper will also review transmission services such as terrestrial, cable, satellite and copper wire, as well as the "new receivers" such as personal computers and mobile telephones; review set-top box technology and the development of interactive services; and "assess the change in relationship between firms, which provide and deliver content through various technologies."

A second policy paper is to cover public broadcasting and identify a range of possible delivery mechanisms. It would include such matters as the future direction of TVNZ, funding mechanisms, possible quota rules on local content and youth radio.

But that's not all: following confirmation of the policy objectives - which Hobbs says she hopes to have approved by the end of May - specific papers will deal with the following issues:

- New directions for TVNZ

- Local content quotas

- Funding mechanisms

- Youth radio

- Digital transmission – regulatory issues

- Reservation of spectrum for non-commercial purposes

- Possible separation of BCL from TVNZ

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