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John Drinnan: Sky TV shapes up in sports stoush

Pay TV operator warns TVNZ about running extensive clips of Sky’s exclusive events.
TVNZ viewers saw only stills from the Joseph Parker-Carlos Takam fight. Photo / Getty Images
TVNZ viewers saw only stills from the Joseph Parker-Carlos Takam fight. Photo / Getty Images

Sky TV bosses say Television New Zealand is grabbing too much of its exclusive sports footage to use on news bulletins and websites.

Sky is threatening legal action if TVNZ does not deal with the gripe, which has been rumbling for a long time.

Sky TV chief executive John Fellet says TVNZ's enthusiasm for Sky clips goes beyond Copyright Act provisions which allow for "fair deal" of such material in news broadcasts.

A source familiar with the dispute said it related to the fact that Sky owned the rights to so many sports events, at the same time that there was increasing demand for clips on magazine-style websites.

The issue has come to a head with Sky warning TVNZ ahead of its coverage of last weekend's Parker-Takam boxing match.

Following the warning, TVNZ used only still pictures in its coverage of the fight, a pay-per-view venture between Sky and promoter Duco.

As it turned out, there were major issues for Sky and Duco, as some fight fans illegally streamed the event on Facebook. Sky is taking separate legal action against the streamers.

John Gillespie, TVNZ's head of news and current affairs, rejects claims TVNZ is going beyond fair use.

Sky was not keeping up with changes to the online media market, he said. There was a public interest in people being able to see events held under exclusive rights, Gillespie said.

TVNZ declined to say how the legal letter from Sky had affected its coverage of the fight on the news and on its websites.

Industry sources told me TVNZ had taken a more liberal approach to fair use than other media. That had raised eyebrows, given that TVNZ itself owned intellectual property which it would be keen to protect.

Sky bosses believed TVNZ had not been treating its concerns seriously enough, said a source.

Counting down

Advertising people have been talking about the end of the 30-second TV commercial as the lead player in advertising campaigns - for ages, it seems.

And so, like so many things in the ongoing media revolution, it has come to pass, and there is now a diminished role for 30-second branding statements in ad campaigns.

Paul Head, chief executive of the Communications Agencies Association of New Zealand, said TV commercials were no less important in reaching a big audience, but advertisers were now looking more widely.

John Gillespie, TVNZ's head of news and current affairs, rejects claims TVNZ is going beyond fair use. Photo / Supplied
John Gillespie, TVNZ's head of news and current affairs, rejects claims TVNZ is going beyond fair use. Photo / Supplied

Advertising commentator Martin Gillman says that for advertisers, the shift is due to added pressure to aim commercials directly at markets, rather than delivering more generalised branding statements.

Commercials with sometimes-subtle links to a brand had become less popular as a key part of branding, he said. Often, the messages on social media advertising on Facebook or You Tube were simple, he said - like "Buy Me" or "I'm good".

Gillman said demand for TV ad time was currently down 5 per cent on this time last year.

Digital advertising is taking over, said one marketer, who would not be named. He said that while 30-second ads were still a part of campaigns, those campaigns were frequently built on other strategies.

Increasingly, advertisers are using other techniques - such as public relations linked to digital promotion - to take a central role.

That change was apparent during the Axis awards for advertising creativity back in February.

I can remember many years ago when a PR- and digital-focused campaign won the Grande Axis, to some resentment from creatives, who had always seen the 30-second commercial as the central format. This year was a case in point, with the Grande Axis taken by Saatchi and Saatchi for the ASB's Clever Cash, a digital money box.

Executive search

Oaktree Capital will be looking askance at the dysfunction at MediaWorks before and after Mark Weldon's departure, and wondering how it can speed up its exit from the company.

Weldon's temporary replacement, CFO and acting CEO David Chalmers, is holding the fort while MediaWorks embarks on an international search for a replacement.

There are many issues facing the company, which has found itself in limboland during an overheated media revolution.

In my opinion, the most immediate plan should be to shore up the Paul Henry breakfast programme - the best thing TV3 has going for it.

TV3 weather woman Ingrid Hipkiss is expected to replace Hilary Barry on the Henry show, with Samantha Hayes taking on the 6pm Newshub bulletin.

The number of breakfast TV viewers is comparatively small, but Paul Henry is at least challenging TVNZ's moribund Breakfast show.

As for Barry's departure, I don't see it causing as many ruptures as some others do.

To me, the reaction when she resigned was hype.

The loss of Barry will make a difference to some older viewers, but I doubt whether young viewers are that excited about news anchors.

- John Drinnan runs the Zagzigger.com media website

- NZ Herald

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John Drinnan has been a business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s.

Read more by John Drinnan

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