Pacific push for more Kiwi TV content
By Sarah Robson
Pacific Islanders will soon be seeing more Kiwi news, documentaries, entertainment and sport on their small screens, thanks to the New Zealand Government.
Prime Minister John Key, who's in Port Moresby for the Pacific Islands Forum, has unveiled a new broadcasting initiative that will mean the current 11 hours of free-to-air television content a week provided by New Zealand will be bumped up by eight hours a day.
"The push had been for there to be better coverage, better services, better quality programmes across the Pacific," Mr Key said.
"You've got a growing population, you've got people who want to have access to the kind of news coverage we have in New Zealand."
He suspects that demand has increased in the year since the Australian government axed its funding for ABC International, which ran the Australia Network that broadcast into the Pacific.
But it's the prospect of more sport on television that's likely to generate the most excitement.
The free-to-air coverage is set to include selected Super Rugby matches, Rugby Championship Tests and ITM Cup matches.
That could annoy some Kiwis who have limited access to rugby on television if they don't have Sky.
But Mr Key says the decision by the rights holder, SANZAR, to allow rugby to be included is a "nice gesture".
"The explanation seems to be that a lot of rugby players come out of the Pacific and they're very keen as the rights holders to promote their sport," he said.
The first broadcasts are expected to begin early next year.
New Zealand will also be offering additional technical assistance to support Pacific broadcasters to help them create more of their own content.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will provide an extra $400,000 a year to fund the initiative, which covers Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will boost the overall aid it provides to the Pacific region by $100 million over the next three years.
That will take New Zealand's total aid to the Pacific to $1 billion.
The total aid budget is $1.7b.