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Sports needed on free-to-air TV

Hon Jim Anderton

Progressive Party leader

9 July 2008 Media Statement

Sports needed on free-to-air TV

EMBARGOED TILL 7pm, 9 July 2008

More iconic sports events need to be screened on free to air tv, Progressive leader Jim Anderton says.

He told an election year film industry summit organised by Film Auckland that a generation of young New Zealanders are growing up without seeing live cricket and rugby on tv. They can't afford pay television.

"The same arguments about seeing ourselves on screen and supporting our local industry that we apply to film and arts also apply to seeing our iconic sporting events on television," Jim Anderton said.

"I've raised the issue in the past and I know it's not easy to solve, because some of these events are being tailored for pay tv, and because you can't just snatch away someone's property rights. But you can buy the rights.

"When we talk about strengthening local content and local capacity to screen New Zealand content, I think sports has to be part of the discussion."

The Progressive Party has floated the idea of 'anti-siphoning' legislation, similar to that in force in Australia. Specified major iconic events are required to be screened on free to air television there.

Jim Anderton said the government would need to compensate sporting bodies affected by lost revenue, but revenue-loss could be reduced by re-auctioning screening rights among free-to-air broadcasters.

Both cricket and rugby lost viewers when they went to pay tv and participation has inevitably fallen away afterwards. Kids who are not seeing their heroes live on tv are not following them in to sport to emulate them.

The world's two largest sports events, the football world cup and the Olympics, won't allow broadcast rights to be monopolised by pay television.


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