Final fight to save TVNZ7

BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 15:13 26/06/2012
Mai Chen
MAI CHEN: The high-profile lawyer will examine whether the Government has acted lawfully in its decision to axe TVNZ7.

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A public meeting in West Auckland tonight is a last-ditch effort to save TVNZ 7 ahead of a funeral march to farewell the channel on Saturday.

New Zealand's only commercial-free, public service television station will close on Saturday after the Government decided not to extend its $79 million funding over six years, $70m of which came from a special dividend from Television New Zealand.

TVNZ7 will become a TV One Plus One channel - standard TV One programming, delayed by an hour.

A meeting will be held at the Oratia Settlers Hall tonight, with a panel of broadcasters, academics and politicians set to discuss its closure.

The Save TVNZ7 online petition, which has more than 33,000 signatures from supporters, closes this afternoon.

The petition will be presented to parliament on Thursday, as supporters march to Wellington's Civic Square.

The final day of broadcasting will be marked by a "funeral procession" through central Auckland.

The march will leave from the bottom of Queen St at 4.30pm and travel to St Matthews in the City on Hobson St.  People are asked to bring flowers and candles to leave at the TVNZ building on the way.

For some though, the end has come early. One staff member took to Facebook this week to vent their frustration at having their work email and computer login cancelled days before the doors were due to shut.

The Save TVNZ7 lobby group recently hired high-profile lawyer Mai Chen to examine whether the Government has acted lawfully in its decision to axe funding for the free-to-air channel and if Save TVNZ7 could seek a judicial review of the Government's decision.

Recent data shows TVNZ7's audience has grown from 863,100 last year to 1.47 million, comparable with the audience of Maori Television.

Chen would determine by the end of the month whether she would take legal action on behalf of Save TVNZ7.

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