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TVNZ boss: 'Public broadcaster' an ill-defined term

Describing Television New Zealand as a Public Broadcaster is an "out dated" and "ill-defined" concept according to its Chief Executive Kevin Kenrick.

TVNZ OnDemand Source: TVNZ

TVNZ executives fronted up to a Parliamentary Committee today for the state owned company's annual review.

In the course of questioning from Labour MP Kris Faafoi about the recent decision to outsource some Maori and Pacific Island programmes, Mr Kenrick was asked whether TVNZ could now be considered a Public Broadcaster.

He told the committee that Public Broadcaster was not a term he used, and it was an ill-defined term.

Mr Kenrick says outside news and current affairs, 90% of TVNZ's local production is outsourced.

However he says that doesn't demonstrate a lack of commitment to those programmes, rather he says it shows TVNZ is committed to the local production industry, and committed to screening their programmes.

Mr Kenrick says what's important is that TVNZ carries out the functions required of it in the TVNZ Act and that Act does not use the term Public Broadcaster.

MPs also raised the issue of TVNZ's investment in the Igloo set top box with Sky TV, and the stake it took in Australian company Hybrid in 2009.

Mr Kenrick confirmed that TVNZ had spent a combined total of $30 million on the two investments, which it has now exited.

However he stressed that while it's appropriate to focus on new technology decisions that had not worked out, that needs to be balanced with the fact others such as TVNZ OnDemand had become a huge success.

Dividend

Mr Kenrick also told the Committee that TVNZ could resume dividend payments to the Government in 2016.

The company was given an exemption from dividend payments last year while it completes an upgrade to its Auckland head office.

Meanwhile, The Chair of TVNZ faced questions over the decision to pay the Mr Kenrick just over $1 million.

Labour MP Clare Curran said the annual report showed that Mr Kenrick's salary had gone from $730,000 in 2013 to just over $1 million in 2014.

Chairman Wayne Walden says the board sought independent advice before setting the CEO's salary and that advice took into account market trends.

Ms Curran questioned how Mr Kenrick could get what she said amounted to a 37 per cent pay rise, when many people were only getting 1 to 2 per cent pay rises.

Mr Walden says the 2013 and 2014 rates can't be directly compared as the 2013 rate did not include incentive payments.

He says if TVNZ wants to attract top people to these types of position it really does have to take into account what the market pays.