I can only assume Clayton Mitchell forgot where he was. Clayton Mitchell, as of about October, is a government MP.

He is a government MP because the party he is in, New Zealand First, decided they wanted to run the country with Labour.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to me to hear old Clayton complaining about the lack of free-to-air coverage for the Winter Olympics. I also assume Clayton is spending a bit of time watching TV, because I literally haven't heard a peep out of him since he's been in power.

New Zealand First's Clayton Mitchell. Photo / George Novak
New Zealand First's Clayton Mitchell. Photo / George Novak

Now, to be fair to Clayton, his passion for free-to-air telly is not new. And in that, he has been consistent in his calls for more sport on free-to-air telly.


He makes, in part at least, not a bad argument. Most of the athletes who excel at Olympic or World Championship level will have or do continue to receive some form of taxpayer support to get to where they have got to.

So, argues Clayton, having made that investment does it not seem unfair that as investors in these proteges we can't see the fruits of our hard spent money via the free-to-air telly. Presumably, if we take it one step further, on our state owned TV channel.

Currently, most of it - not all but most - is locked away behind the pay wall that is Sky.

And Clayton wants to know why. Well, and here's why I was surprised when Clayton re-emerged yesterday into the public gaze, that Clayton clearly hadn't joined a few dots.

As a government member, he is in fact in a position to do something about it.

Governments - I assume Clayton knows this - make the rules. Lots of countries have laws that protect free-to-air events. In Britain, it's Wimbledon, Ascot, and the Ashes. All sorts of major events.

In Australia, it's the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Open.

Here? It's nothing.


Now, to be fair to the aforementioned examples, they do have completely different TV markets, with completely different monetary frameworks. Here we have a couple of TV outlets, one is the state's which makes virtually no profit, and the other is owned by a California vulture fund that makes less than no profit.

Which brings us to why Clayton doesn't stand a hope of ever having his dream become a reality. Clayton has been here before, Clayton got a bill into the house for free-to-air sport, and do you know who voted for it? About no one, not National, not Labour.

Why? Because they're not fiscally idiotic the way Clayton clearly is. Just how many tens of millions do you reckon we'd need to fork out to every sport and its cousin to get it on free-to-air telly?

So if I were Clayton, having failed in opposition, here's the challenge. Why isn't it part of the coalition agreement, why isn't it government policy, why - when at last Clayton finds himself on the benches of power and reform - isn't he announcing we can all watch the luge or curling for free?

He announced grandiosely that Sky's coverage on Prime wasn't good enough. Well, Clayton, what are you going to do about it?