This is the full text of the statement released by Melissa Lee on Monday evening in response to the story run by TV3. The Screen Hub article is here.
National Party MP
12 October 2009
Statement on NZ On Air decision
National MP Melissa Lee says a business she part-owns has moved to correct an accounting oversight in the wake of a New Zealand On Air decision about the treatment of a contingency fund at the television production company.
“I’m pleased an investigation by New Zealand On Air has cleared the company of allegations levelled by the opposition that it misused funds for political purposes. That was the original claim.”
However, the New Zealand On Air investigation has uncovered a technical accounting mistake.
The issue involves a budgeted contingency fund set aside from profits, which NZ On Air has concluded should have been repaid at the end of each financial year. At a time when there was no increase in funding, the company reduced its profit margins so it could “continue making quality television and prudently maintain a contingency fund”.
As Lee explained, “This has come as a total surprise, the company wasn’t aware that the money set aside in the contingency was technically expected to be refunded. I’m not deeply involved in the day-to-day accounting, but the company’s moved quickly to rectify the problem and will pay back any money deemed to be outstanding.
“This was an innocent error. The company has already amended processes to ensure it can’t happen in the future. I’d also urge other production companies to seek advice and make sure they comply.”
Lee is pleased the investigation, sparked by misleading claims from the opposition that New Zealand On Air funding was being misused for political purposes, has uncovered the technical mistake and that the company can now put the matter behind it.
“The company’s made some great television over the years, it has helped bring more diversity to Kiwi TV screens and it has employed a good number of staff in that time. It’s time for the company to get back to doing what it is good at, which is the business of making quality television.”