How’s this for insanity: the finals in the World Cup will be broadcast live on four free to air channels (TV1, TV3, Maori TV in English and Maori TV in Maori) as well as Sky. That’s pretty much the definition of overkill and it has got to have cost a bomb, thanks to the Government’s disastrous handling of the issue.
How much is this circus costing us? Last we heard the Government was putting money into TVNZ and Maori TV’s competing bids. Pita Sharples had allocated money from TPK to Maori TV for the bid (which he had no right to do) and Gerry Brownlee had backed a counter-bid from TVNZ. It was allowed to happen because the Prime Minister wasn’t doing his job, too busy with photo shoots.
The competing government-funded bids raised the price of the rights and you can bet that the IRB didn’t just decide to let the eventual consortium (or clusterfuck, as the yanks would call it) of channels have rights to broadcast on extra channels for free.
The Government won’t tell us the total price of the rights to broadcast the same games on multiple free-to-air channels simultaneously but we know that the Government alone spent $3.2 million – $200,000 per game – and there’s the price paid by TVNZ, Maori TV, and TV3 on top of that.
If this had been handled properly from the start – i.e. if John Key had stopped his ministers acting like idiots – then there would be free-to-air games on one channel and the IRB wouldn’t be laughing all the way to the bank. Instead, we had more over-promises, under-delivery from the Key government that says everything will be great but then doesn’t do anything and leaves us with a mess at the end.
Oh, and pity anyone without Sky who wants to watch anything other than rugby on TV those nights.