TV market as important as film: PM

Prime Minister John Key says luring the television market to New Zealand with subsidies is just as economically important to the country as the movie industry.

He said big movies helped employment here, but because they came about only sporadically, work on television series would supply more constant opportunities for jobs.

Mr Key travelled to Los Angeles last week to woo the film and television industry to New Zealand.

Actor Cliff Curtis and Weta head Sir Richard Taylor joined Mr Key in meeting the heads of Fox, Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Sony and MGM studios at a dinner hosted by Avatar director James Cameron and his associate John Landau.

The meal followed a day of meetings in Hollywood for Mr Key, including a visit to the set of TV show Body of Proof, where he was introduced to the cast, including former Desperate Housewives star Dana Delany.

But despite Mr Key's assurances that the film and television industry would bring higher employment opportunities to the country, recent reports say Wellington's Weta workshop was planning to bring 300 foreign workers here to work in post production.

Mr Key told Radio New Zealand today Warner Bros had estimated about 3000 people were employed while movies were made here.

"I don't know how many of those are from overseas and how many are local, but my guess is the majority would be local."

He said he told studio bosses New Zealand was a "great place" to make movies and television shows, due to our expertise in the area.

However, he acknowledged some had raised the question of building more sound studios and film sets.

"It certainly helps in terms of their production. It hasn't stopped them [movie makers] coming down here in the past. That might be a private sector response. There are quite a number of people looking at sound stages in New Zealand."

The timing of Mr Key's trip to the States had been criticised due to the ongoing revelations around the New Zealand investigation into internet mogul Kim Dotcom and his multi-million dollar company Megaupload.

A bid by US authorities to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand to face movie piracy and racketeering charges is currently mired in legal wrangling compounded by a domestic spying scandal.

He said the chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America, Chris Dodd, had raised the Dotcom Megaupload issue "in passing" during the dinner.

"I wouldn't say the conversation was very long about the topic, simply noted the case was ongoing in New Zealand and we left it there."

He said New Zealand was just "playing its part" in cooperating with the extradition treaty it had with the United States.

Mr Dodd did not raise any of the illegal search warrant issues or the illegality of the GSCB's involvement in the case, Mr Key said.

He said his trip to the States was worthwhile, and as Prime Minister he had access to a number of people who were vital in the industry.


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