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Prime Wins Free-to-Air Rugby Rights

12 December 2005

Prime Wins Free-to-Air Rugby Rights

Prime Television confirmed today that its bid was successful for the free-to-air rugby rights and that it will become SKY’s official free-to-air broadcast partner for rugby for 2006.

Warwick Syphers, Chief Executive, Prime Australia said “The negotiations with SKY took several months as it was important to Prime that this deal would work for us whether or not SKY purchased the business”.

“Our bid was an aggressive one however if we can just lift viewership by just 1 % it will be worth the investment”, said Syphers.

“Prime has become the home of free-to-air cricket and rugby league through its continuing arrangements with SKY - the addition of rugby to the Prime sport programming line-up will create a compelling viewing option for New Zealanders”, said Syphers.

SKY Television Chief Executive, John Fellet said, “The only other bid we received was almost half the value received by SKY in the 2005 season. With the new look Rebel Sport Super 14, Air New Zealand NPC and the expanded Tri-Nations Series, we believe that rugby is more valuable than ever”.

“A free-to-air broadcast partner committed to screen rugby replays in primetime is an important element in our involvement in televised sport in New Zealand, the replay in primetime achieving a much greater viewership than a replay after midnight on a network with a larger reach”, said Fellet

Recently, there has been some criticism of Prime’s coverage in the media by its competitors which Chief Executive, Warwick Syphers dismissed as “blatant propaganda”. “In fact in April 2005, as part of its application for NZOA (New Zealand on Air) funding, BCL (Broadcast Communications Ltd) estimated Prime’s coverage at more than 91%”, said Syphers.

Syphers also said that the acquisition of rugby for 2006 will provide Prime with a great opportunity to run a nationwide “tune in” campaign to ensure that viewers throughout New Zealand are tuned in to the channel.

Prime confirmed that it is currently reviewing a proposal by BCL to extend its existing coverage areas. Back in the 1990’s, using funding from NZOA, CanWest were able to expand their coverage to what it is today, around 97%, but unfortunately this funding stream is no longer available.

SKY has also received a briefing from BCL on the plan to launch DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television), which interestingly, once implemented, will provide identical coverage for Prime, TV1, TV2 and TV3.


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