DVML defends TV sales to staff, board

A decision to sell surplus televisions at Forsyth Barr Stadium to the venue's staff and board members is being defended by Dunedin Venues Management Ltd.

The company, responding to Otago Daily Times questions, confirmed it sold 18 of the stadium's older screens to DVML staff, board member Peter Stubbs and board chairman Sir John Hansen.

The televisions were among 94 installed when the stadium opened in 2011, but later deemed surplus and incompatible when DVML spent another $1.3 million adding a new Cisco StadiumVision system - and 165 newer screens - the following year.

The sales - which had not previously been disclosed - were criticised yesterday by Cr Lee Vandervis, who said the company's spending continued to ''disappoint at every turn''.

The process was defended as ''absolutely legitimate'' by DVML's new chief executive, Terry Davies.

He told the ODT an investigation had concluded the sales were based on valuations obtained at the time, approved by the board, and there was ''no cloak and dagger around this''.

That was despite the company being unable to find any record of the valuation process or board instructions since then, despite an ''exhaustive'' search of company records as part of the investigation, he said.

The company had also omitted to record the transactions in board meeting minutes or DVML's public accounts, he said.

''There's a process we all acknowledge we didn't follow and that'll be part of an overall review in sharpening up our processes across the board,'' he said.

The transactions, detailed in response to the ODT's official information request, showed the 26-inch to 46-inch screens were sold between 2011 and 2013, for sums ranging from $220 to $680.

DVML staff bought 14 of the screens, two 40-inch screens were sold to Sir John - at $380 each - in January last year, and Mr Stubbs bought two 46-inch screens - at $380 each - last August.

Mr Davies said there was no issue selling the screens to staff or board members, but the proper process to record the details should have been followed.

The variation in price reflected the condition of the second-hand screens, which were sold without warranties or manuals and, in some cases, were ''badly scratched'', Mr Davies said.

Of the 94 screens originally installed at the venue, 28 were still in use, 18 had been sold and another 38 were ''in the process'' of being sold, Mr Davies said.

Three more screens had been used as prizes for public promotions, while seven had been ''discarded due to technical malfunctions'', he said.

DVML staff could not say yesterday how much the 94 screens had cost originally, or what had been recouped to date from sales, but all 165 newer screens remained in use at the venue.

Mr Davies said attempts had been made, unsuccessfully, to sell the older screens through a Dunedin auction house, before Sir John and Mr Stubbs bought theirs up to a year after they ceased being used.

DVML's then-chief executive, David Davies, had deemed them surplus and wanted them sold to recoup money for the company.

The company's then-operations director, Darren Burden, initially checked a website to determine a sale price, but was later told by the board to seek a second, independent valuation.

No record of the valuations or board instructions had been uncovered, but David Davies had since confirmed in writing - as part of the company's investigation - the steps had been followed, Terry Davies said.

The valuations were credible and, if anything, in some cases ''the guys have probably paid too much'', he said.

Cr Vandervis told the ODT he had more questions, including who decided to buy the original screens and whether their compatibility with the newer StadiumVision system was checked before committing to the upgrade.

Mr Davies would not comment yesterday on the merits of buying the original screens, but said the StadiumVision system was ''an essential tool in any stadium''.

Cr Vandervis' questions would be answered, and the situation underscored the value of official information requests in identifying ''failures in process'', he added.

''It's been a good lesson for us.''


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