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Government drops ball on Rugby World Cup

2 October 2009 Media Statement

Government drops ball on Rugby World Cup

The Government’s hapless interference in the Rugby World Cup broadcast rights bidding process smacks of a foreboding lack of co-ordination around the event, says Labour’s Rugby World Cup spokesperson Trevor Mallard.

The Herald reports today that Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has given his blessing for Te Puni Kokiri to sink up to $3 million into Maori Television to support its bid for the free-to-air rights to broadcast the Cup.

“It appears Dr Sharples hasn’t even consulted his Cabinet colleagues. The move is inappropriate and plain stupid on a number of fronts and the public should be worried,” Trevor Mallard says.

“It would see public money used to up the bidding war and the coffers of the International Rugby Board will reap the benefits.

“It would create an unfair bidding platform for the other television channels - undermining what was apparently a competitive, commercial arrangement. It sets a precedent for an incoherent and almost unbelievable broadcasting policy.

“Questions should also be raised about whether a small agency like Te Puni Kokiri should be investing such large sums of money in this, rather than in job creation or other similar programmes for Maori,” Trevor Mallard said.

“If there is a spare $3 million of taxpayers’ money sitting around to invest in broadcasting the Rugby World Cup – and that is questionable – then there at least needs to be a proper Cabinet process around the investment to ensure it reaps the biggest benefits for the New Zealand public.

“As the previous Minister of Broadcasting, I changed the charter funding arrangements after discovering TVNZ was using the funding to subsidise its coverage of the Olympics. This was inappropriate after they won the broadcast rights through a competitive tender process.

“Now it appears Pita Sharples is encouraging a double standard. John Key, Murray McCully and Johnathan Coleman need to talk to Pita Sharples and get their heads around what’s going on, because right now it appears the Government has again dropped the ball,” Trevor Mallard says.


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