New Zealand's TV industry looks to the future

MUMBAI: As New Zealand celebrated 45 years of television broadcasting, industry leaders in the country met in Auckland a few days ago.

The forum was an opportunity to develop a collective response to the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

New Zealand Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey said, "Public television broadcasting is thriving in New Zealand alongside a successful commercial industry. The challenge now is how our relatively small industry can continue to grow and move forward amidst a period of unprecedented change.

Maharey said that changes in technology and audience behaviour were among the big challenges facing the television industry.

"New technologies, growth in the number of channels and alternatives like the Internet and DVDs are placing new pressures on both public and private broadcasters."

"From just two channels in 1998 we now have six national free-to-air channels, substantial pay TV offering and our independent regional broadcasters. New Zealanders are enjoying our local product and calling for more. While much has been achieved in the last five years, the challenges facing the industry are probably the biggest it has ever faced. I urge all participants to think hard about the challenges for the sector and to work together to ensure we continue to build a strong and dynamic broadcasting industry," he said.

"We are at a point at which much of what television is contributing to the lives of New Zealanders could slip away. We need to think ahead about how to preserve what makes us distinctive; how to invest wisely in a context of unpredictability and change; and how to foster New Zealanders interest in seeking out local content from among a growing abundance of international fare."

The key issue that was discussed at the forum was how local content could continue to be appealing and informative in a global market · How New Zealand can continue to grow its TV industry - and in particular its exports - in the face of international competition and rising production costs.

Maharey says that the government had invested an additional $30 million through this year's Budget to strengthen the Broadcasting sector.

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