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Sharples Backs MTS Bid To Broadcast Rugby World Cup

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Pita Sharples
Pita Sharples

Wellington, Oct 2 NZPA - Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is backing a Maori Television Service (MTS) bid for the 2011 Rugby World Cup's free-to-air broadcast rights, it was reported today.

The New Zealand Herald said that the $3 million taxpayer-funded bid overshadowed the bids by Television New Zealand and TV3.

The money would come out of funds set aside to foster Maori development and not the $16.5 million given to the channel to fund its operation.

Dr Sharples told the newspaper that MTS had a "track record of bold programming with live coverage of major events" such as this week's coverage of Sir Howard Morrison's funeral.

"Maori Television might see a successful bid as a great opportunity to ... showcase Maori ... for the benefit of the whole country."

TVNZ had approached MTS with a proposal for a joint bid with TV3, including simultaneous broadcasting of the biggest games, but that has not been taken up, the Herald said.

TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis said the state broadcaster had been asked to put an additional bid in.

TVNZ recently said it could not afford its free-to-air rights to cover the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and entered into talks with Sky, which owns free to air channel Prime.

Sky earlier this year won host broadcaster rights for the tournament to produce coverage of all 48 matches in New Zealand.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said then that tenders would go out later this year for the rights for local broadcasters to screen up to 16 matches.

They would include All Black Pool games, along with the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final.

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