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SOLO-NZ Op-Ed: Dance Monkeys, Dance!

SOLO-NZ Op-Ed: Dance Monkeys, Dance!
By Lance Davey

"Dance Monkeys, Dance!" [insert evil organ-grinder cackling here]

Message received loud and clear, Mr Anderton. A lot of us were under the impression that privately run, privately funded and professional sports were precisely that: privately run, funded and professional. Of course not, though! Thank you for reminding us that you and your ilk view them as little more than chained dancing bears or leashed, fez-wearing monkeys dancing to your tune. So now you wish to ban (there's that word again Jim!) them from selling live coverage rights of their events to pay-per-view channels, because some people who cannot afford PPV are 'missing out,' so to speak. Awwwww, diddums!

Mr Anderton lamented at a Film Auckland event that a generation of young Kiwis was growing up without watching live cricket and rugby because they could not afford pay television (oh very nicely done Jim – actually it's their parents who can't afford it, but won't someone think of the children?). Well, I confess I grew up without watching live cricket or rugby either, but that wasn't because it wasn't free-to-air; it was. It was because I was not even remotely interested. I'd go off and read a book instead. As I got older, and state TV lost its broadcast monopoly in New Zealand, competition in sports broadcasting brought about some changes: rugby and cricket matches were no longer the only fare available. I was able to regularly tune in to international rally, world circuit surfing, and an absolute plethora of (and this bit is important) consistent coverage of what New Zealanders might have once laughably considered "fringe" sports (like real, actual, European Cup football for instance).

Jim talks about a "flow-on effect" resulting in "fewer children playing cricket and rugby". Jim, Jim, Jimminy, James, you're being soparochial, darling. I got three words for ya: "Boo friggidy hoo!" As it happens, more children are taking up surfing, curling, lawn bowls, soccer, weightlifting, rowing, e-sports, robot-wars ... all of the wonderful pastimes, sports and pseudo-sports that are now broadcast on the telly or viewable as webcasts from all over the world. Get over the two-sport state already!

Perhaps though, I have been a bit misleading. While Jim apparently does view the world of privately run professional sports as dancing bears or monkeys there for our amusement, of course Jimbob is not quite so silly (or perhaps brave) as to poke the dancing bear with a stick. Oh no, though I've no doubt he'd like to. No, Jimmy is a lot of things, but he's not stupid. Compensation will be paid to the sporting organisations, so this won't cost them as much as actually outright banning the sale of live rights to pay-per-view channels; instead it will be subsidised with your money. Ah, have I captured your interest now? The way he intends this to work, as I understand it, is that because not everyone who wants to view such an important cultural event as live rugby or cricket, can afford to do so, everyone, be they interested viewers or no, has to pay part of the costs to get it to become free. The scary part is that in Jimmy's mind, everyone wins. The sports get subsidised (and therefore just a little bit more answerable to the state), poor people don't get disenfranchised from their "culture and heritage" and enjoy the inalienable right to watch free rugby, and it only costs everyone else a small amount, instead of costing the actual users a bit more.

Apparently, state-owned, free-to-air, broadcaster TVNZ welcomed the news – wotta surprise!


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