A dispute over coverage of the Rio Olympics goes against the fundamental principles of the games, according to one politician.

NZME and Fairfax have withdrawn reporting teams from the Rio Olympics blaming restrictive conditions around footage imposed by Sky. The pay-television operator has purchased broadcasting rights for the games.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said the spat was not in the interests of New Zealanders.

The Government, the New Zealand Olympic Committee and the media were all to blame, he said.


Peters said the Olympic Charter called for the widest, fullest coverage of the games but that guideline had been compromised by greed.

He said the Government should have demanded the Olympic Charter be honoured but it had failed to take a stance on behalf of taxpayers, athletes and sports fans.

"All manner of people are part and parcel of an Olympic effort. From the people that have been taking kids to athletics, and all sorts of things and doing all the hard yards and all the sports clubs, administrators and everybody that's put money into a raffle to raise funds..."

Peters also believed the Olympic Committee had let the country down in giving Sky control over coverage negotiations.

"It's just not good enough. We're a first world country and we owe the New Zealand people better than this. So I'm calling upon all parties involve, the media, the Olympic Committee and the Government to sort this out and now."

Peters said his party advocated that major events be broadcast free to air.

Professor of cultural research at Western Sydney University, David Rowe, said such disputes were less of problem in Australia where anti-siphoning laws meant a list of events needed to be offered to free to air television.

"The space for dispute is smaller here because of the anti-siphoning laws and the fair dealing provisions are probably guarded more here than they are in some other countries."

However, there was still the capacity for disputes between free-to-air rights holders and other parties.

Rowe said anti-siphoning laws were about cultural citizenship, or the idea that anyone living in a country should have free access to national culture. Cultural citizenship rights allowed people to feel connected to the world.

The laws meant any Australian should be able to see an event of national importance and cultural significance including major football finals, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games, said Rowe.

"What happened in New Zealand many years ago was the decision was made to think of citizens as consumers. Consumers only. There's this conflict between consumer sovereignty, consumer rights and citizenship rights."

"Consumers can only gain their rights by purchasing something, purchasing culture in this case, and they have to have the means to do so and not everybody does. That is why I support the anti-siphoning laws."

Rowe said he opposed events of national importance and cultural significance being captured exclusively by a subscription platform.

"The most important people are the citizens and that's why cultural citizenship rights, in my view, have to be defended and I would suggest, in New Zealand, restored."

He said the situation currently unfolding over coverage of the Olympics in New Zealand happened wherever there was a dispute over the primary rights holder trying to exercise maximum control.

"The conditions for the dispute are set up because someone pays a lot of money for what they regard as exclusive rights and then they feel that other people are going to try and piggyback on that and make money out of it."

Rowe said no political party in Australia favoured the abolition of anti-siphon laws.
"It would be regarded as political suicide in Australia to do so."

Sports and events included in Australian anti-siphoning laws

• Olympic Games
• Commonwealth Games
• Horse Racing
• Australian Rules Football
• Rugby League Football
• Rugby Union Football
• Cricket
• Soccer
• Tennis
• Netball
• Golf
• Motor Sports