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The death of free-to-air live sport

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Author Topic: The death of free-to-air live sport  (Read 534 times)
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« on: March 27, 2011, 06:10:09 pm »

Free TV sport's 'demise'
By Abby Gillies 5:30 AM Sunday Mar 27, 2011 Share4  Email
We are watching the death of free-to-air live sports coverage, says one of the country's favourite television broadcasters.

Stu Dennison is packing up his desk at TVNZ next month - one of three staff on the sports desk to be made redundant as the national broadcaster loses some of its last rights to live sport.

The man known for the catchphrase "Nice one Stu" was loved by a generation of children for his after-school show, before he moved to the other side of the camera to become New Zealand's most renowned live sports producer.

As well as the three redundant staff, familiar faces like Julie Coney (who as Julie Townsend captained the Silver Ferns) will not have their contracts to present national and international netball renewed.

Netball New Zealand is the latest to join the Sky pay-to-view platform, announcing last month that it has signed a four-year broadcasting partnership with the network.

It was the end of a 17-year association with TVNZ.

The Herald on Sunday understands the national broadcaster made an offer of $700,000 for the rights - far, far below Sky's successful bid of $2.3 million.

Dennison, who has 30 years' broadcast experience, said yesterday that New Zealand was seeing the "demise of sport on free-to-air TV".

"I'm a believer that being the great sporting nation we are, people should be able to watch our major sporting codes without paying for it," he said. "But that's not the case."

TVNZ simply did not have enough money to compete with Sky for broadcasting rights, Dennison said.

His boss, TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis, said the company was disappointed by NZ Netball's decision, but added: "We're a commercial organisation too and don't blame them for going with the highest bidder.

"In an ideal world we'd have major sports on free-to-air TV in New Zealand but that's not the world we currently live in," he said.

The deal means international and domestic netball will be shown exclusively live on Sky Sport until 2015.

Unlike such countries as Australia, the UK and Belgium, New Zealand has no law protecting the free-to-air live broadcast of sporting events. Former deputy prime minister Jim Anderton, the leader of the Progressive Party, has campaigned for such a law.

But the Government is not considering any such legislation, according to a spokesman for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman.

And former broadcasting minister Trevor Mallard said Labour-led governments had looked at regulations around free-to-air broadcasting several times, but the cost meant it was not a priority.

"I'd love to have some more stuff free-to-air but I'm not willing to cut the health and education budget," he said.

Sky chief executive John Fellet said there was increased free access to sports matches for fans, citing replays on Prime and this year's RWC - just not live coverage. "I would argue that there's more sport on free-to-air than before."

Free-to-air broadcasters have "put a lower value on sports and put more value on Desperate Housewives and Outrageous Fortune," he said. Making all sport free-to-air would cripple professional sports which relied on advertising to pay their players, he said. "New Zealand's not a big enough market to support professional sports with advertising on free-to-air."

Prime Television will be Netball NZ's new free-to-air partner, replaying all international matches after they have screened live on Sky Sport.

Sky also has coverage of rugby internationals, Super Rugby, provincial rugby, international and provincial cricket, most FIFA football, NRL rugby league, Breakers' basketball, PGA Golf, Formula One, the US Open and the 2012 London Olympics.

About 50 per cent of households have SKY, with the cheapest plan that includes sport costing $70 a month.


I am not a sport watcher as a rule but Mr Sp is went he gets the chance. At $70 per month he won't be getting the chance. The household income doesn't stretch that far.
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2011, 03:15:39 pm »

I have SKY solely so I can watch my beloved Crusaders and ITM Cup Canterbury teams play. In the off season, SKY is turned off.

I may not like it but I understand the reasoning behind it all. SKY pays a big chunk to the Sport's admin organisation. The Sports admin organisation pays the salaries of the players. The public demand to see the best players which means shelling out for them.

This was always going to happen with the move to pro sport.

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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2011, 10:18:58 am »

Netball is now turning up on Sky  Sport One.  Sad   ok  to play but must be the most boring sport for television.  Netball should have its own channel  Wink

We upgraded to get the Rugby channel to get live Rugby sevens as the other sports channels only show delayed highlights.  Grrr
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