Praise Be Programmes Reduced

Press Release: Churches Broadcasting Commission

The popular Sunday morning hymns and sacred songs programme “Praise Be” on TVNZ has been chopped from 45 programmes last year to 35 for 2007. The amount of funding for 2007 has been reduced by nearly $133,000.

New Zealand On Air, the body that is responsible for allocating government money to broadcasters, says only that there are “competing priorities” for the budget from which the ‘Praise Be’ allocation is drawn.

Trish Moseley of the Churches Broadcasting Commission has written to NZOA asking them to reconsider their decision and reinstate the ten dropped programmes.

“All the figures available to us show that ‘Praise Be’ continues to hold up extremely well in audience ratings and viewer satisfaction levels, so it’s difficult to understand what ‘competing priorities’ have usurped it in the scramble for the taxpayers’ money that NZOA are distributing to broadcasters on behalf of the government,” said Mrs Moseley.

“This is a programme that, under the Broadcasting Act and TVNZ Charter, NZOA is obliged to fund and promote further – not reduce the funding!

“As well, there is a very significant older audience who are being further deprived of their only regular programme of a spiritual nature. Reducing even further the programme time devoted to ‘Praise Be’ from a miniscule 0.25 percent per annum down to 0.20 percent of total transmission time, is simply not good enough and we would like answers as to why it has happened.

“Then there’s the TV exposure that ‘Praise Be’ offers choirs and choral groups around New Zealand which is not offered on any other regular programme on TV. Even the one-off arts programmes of late that are funded by NZOA have not funded New Zealand choirs and there are thousands of people involved in these groups throughout the country who can reasonably expect such exposure especially when compared with what many minority groups receive in terms of funding.”

Mrs Moseley said the announcement of the decision to cut the programme was made just before Christmas and that does not have the look of a government department on top of its game – “that’s hardly a reasonable lead-in time, especially for a TV production. But I hope their response to our request is quick and positive and puts the matter aright,” she added.

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