20 Oct 2009

"Brace face" of Maori Party seen by Labour over TV rights

6:23 am on 20 October 2009

Labour says the Maori Party is putting a brave face on what it calls the shambolic outcome to the Rugby World Cup TV negotiations.

The Cabinet has backed a deal that will see Maori Television as the lead free to air broadcaster for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The proposal would see Maori TV showing 16 of the main games live.

Television New Zealand and TV3 would each broadcast nine games.

The opening ceremony would be shown live on Maori TV and TVNZ, with the final, semi, and quarter finals on all three networks.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the deal is an excellent platform for Maori Television.

But Labour Party leader Phil Goff says the Government's handling of the bid has been an embarrassment, with ministers blaming and contradicting each other.

Prime Minister John Key admits while the process could have been handled better, but he rejects suggestions the Government is incompetent.

The deal is still to be accepted by the International Rugby Board.