A South Auckland rugby club that screened the historic test match between the All Blacks and Samoa to a crowd of around 300 people did so illegally by "stealing" the broadcast feed.
The Otahuhu Rugby Club attracted the ire of broadcaster SKY TV after a Herald report noted that the club's broadcast dropped out in the 72nd minute when the match was in the balance. A SKY representative contacted the Herald to point out that club was not in fact a customer. Instead a person associated with the club had taken their personal decoder to the clubrooms, which was illegal.
"This is piracy, a form of theft," SKY's spokeswoman said. "The fact is that its taking something you have not paid for."
Otahuhu president John Roache said the club had had simply wanted to provide an opportunity for members of the community to watch the match and had not made any money from screening it.
A flier advertising the match said tables at the club could be purchased for $150 and light refreshments would be provided. However Mr Roache said the club had not organised the event or distributed the flier. Only about three tables were sold and the money from that was used by the person who took their decoder to the club for the hire of a big screen and to pay a band that provided the live music.
"It was never anything for the club at all," Mr Roache said. "We only just did this for the community."
The club had been contacted by SKY and asked to take out a subscription, which cost around $350 a month. Mr Roache said he would take the proposal to the club's committee but he was not certain it was financially viable.
"We are no position of paying that every month without using it. Signing a contract for one year is crazy. I've told them we can't afford to do that. We hardly use the club.
"We didn't want to make any money out of [showing the match] and now we are going to sacrifice something like $350 a month the next 12 months? What are we going to use it for? The rugby season is over now."
The club had just 20 financial members, Mr Roache said. It had around 400 players, none of whom paid subs, so was forced to fundraise heavily during the season.
SKY's spokeswoman said the company did not take piracy lightly as it was vital the company recouped what it spent on securing broadcasting rights for major sporting events.
"SKY pays dearly for sports rights, it's our greatest investment," she said. "Aside from the investment in rights we put a lot into rugby and other codes, for example we spend a huge amount on production and promotion
"If rights values are eroded this has implications for the sport; rights fees help fund player salaries and hopefully keep the best players in NZ, build strong promotion for the sport and fund grassroots, which is vital for talent development and longevity of code."
• The cost of a SKY subscription for a sports club is $300 + GST
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