Writers Ask Minister to Rein in TVNZ

Writers Ask Minister to Rein in TVNZ
Media Release from the New Zealand Writers Guild
12 May 2006

The New Zealand Writers Guild have asked Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey to amend the terms of an in-house competition being run by TVNZ.

The Life’s a Pitch contest invites TVNZ staff to pitch programme ideas to the content department. TVNZ takes the copyright to all entries it chooses to use but provides no payment to the creators. In the real world, when TVNZ commissions a show any creator could potentially expect to receive thousands of dollars.

Said Guild Executive Director Dominic Sheehan “We requested that the Minister require that TVNZ allow all entrants to retain the copyright to their entries. TVNZ will be free to contract for the rights, but at least then any creator will be able to negotiate for fair rates and conditions for their work.”

TVNZ’s own Charter requires them to “support and promote the talents and creative resources of New Zealanders and of the independent New Zealand film industry”. Sheehan points out “How is not paying people for their work supportive? TVNZ are wilfully breaching their own Charter. It is the government’s job to ensure that the terms of this Charter are adhered to which is why we’ve asked the Minister to intervene.”

TVNZ keep calling this contest “a bit of fun” but in fact their actions amount to a rights grab. It’s akin to copyright theft and that’s no fun at all.

For further comment contact: Dominic Sheehan 021 707 344.

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