SPORTS

Free-to-air TV Including Rugby Tests Will Be Available In The Pacific Next Year

Sport is coming to the small screen in the Pacific after John Key announced a free-to-air deal that will provide up to eight hours of coverage a day. The Prime
10 Sep 2015 08:37
Free-to-air TV Including Rugby Tests Will Be Available In The Pacific Next Year
Prime Minister John Key (left), is a big sport fan and has announced a broadcasting deal that will see more sport shown free-to-air in the Pacific.

Sport is coming to the small screen in the Pacific after John Key announced a free-to-air deal that will provide up to eight hours of coverage a day.

The Prime Minister is in Papua New Guinea at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) where leaders are meeting to discuss a range of issues including climate change, fisheries, health and human rights abuses in West Papua.

On Wednesday Key announced high quality television content would be available to Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea from early next year.

This will give the Pacific nations access to selected Super 15 matches, Rugby Championship tests and ITM Cup matches along with news, documentaries and entertainment at a cost to taxpayers of $400,000 a year.

“Given the Pacific’s love of sport we are particularly pleased that a number of sports rights holders, including SANZAR, have given their support to the project,” Key said.

The move comes on the back of the Australian Federal Government last year pulling millions of dollars of funding from a broadcaster contracted to provide content in the Pacific.

ABC was only one year into a ten-year broadcasting contract that was providing coverage to more than 46 countries in the Asia and Pacific region when the Government scrapped it because of concerns contract obligations weren’t being met.

Key said currently the Pacific has access to about 11 hours a week of free-to-air coverage and with an ageing population it made sense Pacific Islanders would want more news and sport available.

He acknowledged some Kiwis who didn’t have free-to-air sport would be frustrated by the announcement but said that came down to broadcasters like SANZAR choosing where to utilise their broadcasting rights.

“The decision for rugby to be included in that comes because of the generosity of SANZAR…the explanation seems to be that a lot of rugby players come out of the Pacific and they’re very keen as the rights holders there to promote their support.

“In essence by showing more rugby, I’m guessing they hope there will be more Pacific Island players who take up rugby,” Key said.

New Zealand’s broadcasting package would “significantly increase the amount of content available to Pacific audiences” while also showcasing New Zealand talent.

“As part of the project New Zealand will also support Pacific broadcasters with additional technical assistance and training to help create more local content,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday Key announced an additional $100 million in aid to the Pacific taking the total amount provided over the next three years to $1 billion.

The Pacific’s aid makes up close to 60 per cent of the total $1.7 billion New Zealand provides in development assistance internationally.

Key said the majority being spent in the Pacific was reflective of the “importance we place on our neighbourhood, the challenges we collectively face and the enormous potential our region has.”

Fisheries, tourism and agriculture in the Pacific would be the big focus of future investment along with education and continuing to build infrastructure including roads and health facilities.

“New Zealand has been at the forefront of efforts to shift the Pacific from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable electricity,” he said.



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