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Sky Digital Pilots Bi-Lingual Programming

16 March 2000


Sky Television today announced that it would trial a bilingual service on its digital platform during this weekend's NRL game at Ericsson stadium in Auckland. The Warriors versus St. George Illawarra game, live on Sky Sport from 4.25pm, will, for the first time, offer viewers the option of an English or Maori commentary.

Nate Smith, Sky's CEO, says he's excited by the trial and the opportunities it presents viewers long term.

"Using the digital service we have the ability to offer a range of bilingual programming be it Maori, Cantonese or Pacific Island languages. As Maori is the indigenous tongue, it made sense to start there,” Mr Smith says.

The bilingual service seats two new commentators on the bench beside seasoned game callers Graeme Hughes, Brent Todd and Peter Ropati.

Te Whetu McCorkindale, a journalist and broadcaster for Mana magazine and Mana radio, will team up with Pumi Tumai, an AUT media studies student. Tumai last year won the secondary schools national Maori speech championships.

Tui McKendrick, Sky's executive producer of Rugby League, says she believes league viewers will enjoy having the option of the two commentaries.


"Our research shows that a high number of Maori and Pacific Islanders are both players and fans of the code.

"Giving those viewers a choice of the most suitable language for them to listen to can only enhance their enjoyment of the game," Ms McKendrick says.

The bilingual commentary will run from 4.25pm - 6.30pm on Sky Sport. Viewers can access their language of choice by selecting the audio channel using their remote control and then opting for either "English" or "Maori". Sky Sport will screen a demonstration of how to access the alternate commentary before kick-off on Saturday afternoon.

Sky Television now has 117,000 digital subscribers. Just last week it announced its intention to begin introducing interactive services on its digital platform.


For further information, please contact:

Tui McKendrick
Executive Producer
Rugby League
SKY Network Television Ltd
Tel: +64 9 579 9999
Fax: +64 9 525 5725

Penelope Barr
General Manager
Beyond Public Relations
Tel: +64 9 306 1801
Fax: +64 9 32 7169
Mob: 025 835 383

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