Taxpayer funded Sky TV for MPs and Councils

Apparently Parliamentary Services hasn’t heard of the internet, and that’s the reason why MPs need expensive corporate Sky subscriptions to keep abreast of news and current affairs…days late.

Taxpayers shelled out $56,000 so MPs could watch Sky TV – but the beancounters insist the politicians have to get “special permission” to see the satellite broadcaster’s more exclusive stations.

Central and local government agencies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Sky TV subscriptions. This emerges at the broadcaster announces plans to merge with telco Vodafone, creating a media behemoth.

Figures requested under the Official Information Act show that a wide variety of state-funded agencies, from hospitals and universities to councils and government departments, believe the pay TV service is an operational cost.

Data obtained by the Taxpayers’ Union shows that $682,525 was spent on Sky subs during the 2014/15 year, with more than $200,000 spent by local councils.

The list was topped by the University of Otago at more than $60,000, followed by KiwiRail and Auckland Council, both just under $50,000.

How on earth can MPs and Auckland Council justify that expense…particularly Auckland Council.

Taxpayers’ Union chief executive Jordan Williams said it was a waste. “The numbers we’ve uncovered show that bureaucrats either don’t have enough work to do, or are wasting money on Sky TV for luxurious staff rooms. Either way this represents a significant waste of taxpayers’ money.”

“Politicians in Wellington also seem to be to enjoy having the taxpayer pick up the tab for their Sky TV bills. Parliamentary and Ministerial Services spent over $56,000 last year to ensure MPs received the service, including Sky Sport.

“Why every Beehive office needs taxpayer funded sport channels is far from clear.”

KiwiRail, the second biggest central government spender on Sky TV, defended its expenditure – saying all bar one of its 23 decoders were for passenger entertainment on its ferries.

The other decoder was used by Tranz Metro staff, with Sky basic and sports channels made available for on-call and shift workers.

Why do ferries need Sky TV? What is wrong with Freeview?

Williams said he did not begrudge universities and hospitals, which had patients and researchers to cater for.

But he did question why the likes of the Reserve Bank and the New Zealand Transport Agency needed to watch cable TV.

He also applauded the NZTA’s decision to can its subscriptions.

NZTA revealed it had spent nearly $20,000 in the 2014/15 year on Sky but said that it would not be spending any more on the service to ensure it delivered “value” to New Zealanders.

At least one government department recognises the troughing when they see it.

Kathy Milne, of Parliamentary Services, said MPs and staff needed to keep abreast of international news, but needed special permission to see the more costly Sky Sport channels.

“It’s a bit of a tool of the trade. It’s really important that they’re across all current affairs and the news…They’re having conversations every single day with businesses and the public so it’s much better they’re informed.”

Have these fools not heard of the internet? Television is perhaps the worst way one can keep abreast of issues. The internet provides far more comprehensive, and cheaper, methods of informing oneself. SkyTV programmes with the exception of live occurring events is usually hours late to the story if not days.

Ministers accounted for the bulk of its 45 decoders with seven spread across the staff.

“These are perfectly ordinary business tools which are used as needed to support the department’s work, our service to ministers and responsiveness to the public.”

These pricks get their entire existence subsidized it appears, including Sky TV. Not only do they have big fat salaries but they also get normal everyday expenses that ordinary citizens have to pay for covered as well.

Their justifications are lame. Sky TV at corporate rates are a rort and mostly certainly not “ordinary business tools”. The internet would be classified as such a tool, but Sky TV would be always considered a luxury item.

It is an outmoded, superseded business model. Time the government looked at other business models to deliver up to date news and current affairs to the troughers in the government and state sector.


– Fairfax

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.