6 Oct 2009

State subsidy for Maori TV rugby rights bid unfair - TV3

1:56 pm on 6 October 2009

TV3's owner, Mediaworks, says Maori TV has unfairly taken advantage of a State subsidy to try to win the free-to-air rights to broadcast the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The International Rugby Board is due to make a decision on those rights on Sunday. Maori TV reportedly leads the race.

The $3 million bid has been made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Maori Affairs.

Mediaworks chief executive, Brent Impey says Mediaworks' bid does not stand a chance against Maori TV's State-subsidised offer.

He says the issue is one of fairness: if public funding is available, all broadcasters should have access to it.

Coverage issue

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says he's sure Maori Television will reach the whole country by the time of the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Maori TV currently reaches only about 85% of New Zealand.

Dr Sharples told Morning Report he's sure everyone will get to view the games by the time of the World Cup.

He said even TV1 and TV3 don't cover the entire country and people to subscribe to satellite TV in order to see these two channels.

PM's comment

Prime Minister John Key says the Ministry of Maori Development will have to justify such spending of taxpayer money.

He says it's incumbent on Te Puni Kokiri and the minister to demonstrate this is a good use of taxpayer funds.