Free to air sport: Another bottom line falls by the wayside

In January this year Winston Peters promised to implement free to air sport:

Free-to-air sport for major events has emerged as another possible “bottom line” for Winston Peters as he goes into coalition talks with National and Labour.

Newshub tonight showed footage of an old, unpublished interview in which the NZ First leader promised he would make significant sporting events free-to-air.

Speaking at the Karaka race horse sales in January this year, Peters told Newshub that “I’m not going to say we’re going to try and implement it – we will implement it”.

“Everybody that’s dealing with Winston Peters and NZFirst knows we intend, as in the past, to keep our word. So they should stop humbugging around,” he said.

“We don’t go making promises we don’t keep. We will deliver.”

And reality is somewhat different:

New Zealand First’s promise of free-to-air sports has been given the cold shoulder by the Labour Government.

In an interview with Newshub in early 2017, Mr Peters promised a broadcasting policy that would have the Rugby World Cup and all domestic Tests shown on free-to-air television.

But public broadcasting, not sport, will be the focus of the new Government’s broadcasting changes.

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran repeatedly told Newshub, while Labour acknowledges there’s an issue with accessing major sports events on television, it’s not a priority for the Government.

Ms Curran said, to make significant sport events free-to-air, there would need to be a way to ensure sporting codes don’t lose out on funding.

“We acknowledge that there’s an issue there,” Ms Curran said.

“We’re saying it’s not our first priority, but we are prepared to have some discussions and look at some solutions for the New Zealand public.”

“I do acknowledge there’s an inequity there. It’s about the best way to approach it.”

When asked what the best approach might be, Ms Curran said it wasn’t the first issue on Labour’s agenda, so some more thought needed to go into it.

Instead, the Government will be focusing on public broadcasting.

“Investment in public broadcasting is our priority,” Ms Curran said. “We believe, in the short-term, that is what we need to do first.”

In other words, promises are meaningless, and Clare Curran has no idea what to do in broadcasting now she finally has her dream job.

And still people wait for free to air sport.


-NZ Herald, Newshub

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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.

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