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MTS World Cup Bid `Plain Stupid', Labour Says

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Trevor Mallard
Trevor Mallard

Wellington, Oct 2 NZPA - A taxpayer-funded Maori Television Service (MTS) bid to screen free-to-air Rugby World Cup matches has been described as "plain stupid" by the Labour Party.

"It sets a precedent for an incoherent and almost unbelievable broadcasting policy," Labour's Rugby World Cup spokesman Trevor Mallard said today.

"It would see public money used to up the bidding war and the coffers of the International Rugby Board will reap the benefits."

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is backing the $3 million MTS bid, reported to be higher than those put in by TVNZ and TV3.

The money would come from funds set aside to foster Maori development and not the annual $16.5 million given to the channel to fund its operations.

Dr Sharples told the New Zealand Herald MTS had a track record for bold programming and a successful bid would be a great opportunity to showcase Maori.

Mr Mallard said it would create an unfair bidding platform and undermine a competitive commercial arrangement.

"Questions should be raised about whether a small agency like Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development) should be investing such large sums of money in this, rather than in job creation or other similar programmes for Maori," he said.

"If there is a spare $3m of taxpayers' money sitting around to invest in broadcasting the Rugby World Cup -- and that is questionable -- then there at least needs to be a proper Cabinet process around the investment to ensure it reaps the biggest benefits for the New Zealand public."

TVNZ previously approached MTS with a proposal for a joint bid, but that was not taken up.

Sky has won broadcast rights for the tournament to produce coverage of all 48 matches.

Tenders will go out later this year for local broadcast rights for up to 16 matches, including All Black pool games, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.

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