The Herald reports:
A taxpayer-funded Maori Television Service bid to screen free-to-air Rugby World Cup matches has been described as “plain stupid” by the Labour Party.
“It sets a precedent for an incoherent and almost unbelievable broadcasting policy,” Labour’s Rugby World Cup spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said yesterday.
“It would see public money used to up the bidding war and the coffers of the International Rugby Board will reap the benefits.”
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is backing the $3 million bid, reported to be higher than those put in by TVNZ and TV3.
I share the discomfort that a taxpayer funded bid may be higher than what is commercially sensible.
However I can understand the rationale from the Maori TV point of view. If they did win the free to air rights for NZ for the Rugby World Cup, it will give them a huge increase in viewers, and they are probably calculating that they would keep a proportion of those new viewers once the Cup ends.
Overall I am not convinced though it is a justifiable investment, and TV3 especially would have the right to be very concerned that they are competing with a bidder that can draw down Government funding.
At least the cost is a small fraction of the millions wasted on the charter!
UPDATE: The NZ Herald editorial backs the Maori TV bid and ambition:
Te Puni Kokiri has backed other major Maori Television local programming initiatives without controversy. These have proved highly successful in extending the channel’s profile and viewership. So much so that more than two-thirds of Maori Television’s audience is now non-Maori. Sporting coverage, such as that of the Breakers in the Australian basketball league, has been part of the attraction. Everything suggests the channel would make a good fist of the World Cup.