Rugby World Cup TV rights to cost taxpayer over $3m

By Edward Gay

Photo /  Chris Skelton
Photo / Chris Skelton

The deal securing free-to-air broadcasting rights to the 2011 Rugby World Cup has cost the New Zealand tax-payer over $3 million.

The Government has shelled out $3.2 million to the IRB after a messy bidding process involving Maori Television Service (MTS) and TVNZ bidding against each other, and accusations that the MTS bid information had been passed to TVNZ. The Government then stepped in and facilitated a resolution in October last year.

The $3.2m price tag does not include money paid by the various publicly owned broadcasters.

Associate Rugby World Cup Minister Gerry Brownlee has praised the deal which has seen free-to-air rights allocated to TVNZ, TV3 and Maori TV, who will head the consortium.

The deal means there could be five commentary teams calling the games on television during the 2011 World Cup.

Sky TV will have the rights to broadcast all 48 games and games will also be broadcast in Te Reo Maori on a separate MTS channel.

Under the deal New Zealanders will be able to watch 16 of the key matches live on free-to-air television, including the two quarter-finals that the All Blacks could qualify for.

Rugby World Cup 2011 head Martin Snedden said the announcement was another step towards the "stadium of four million".

"It is a special day for us," Mr Snedden said.

"There is no possibility of anyone in New Zealand not being able to see the matches."

Rugby World Cup Limited managing director Mike Miller was asked about people who did not want to watch rugby, given the wall-to-wall coverage on free-to-air channels.

He said the demands by local broadcasters showed that while there could have been a problem in other countries - it does not seem to be a problem in New Zealand.

Maori TV CEO Jim Mather said his channel would be working together with other free-to-air broadcasters and Sky TV to deliver a quality package.
He said there may have to be a "rationalisation" of commentators towards the end of the tournament.

Mr Miller said it would be a challenge for each of the broadcasters to add their own "flavour" and "style" to their coverage.

Mr Miller would not say how much money the IRB had made from the deal, accept to say that they would be able to meet their costs of covering all the games in high definition and broadcasting them around the world.

"Every penny we make goes into developing rugby around the world," Mr Miller said.

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