Free-to-air sport: Government says no

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran at Jacinda Ardern's announcement of ministerial portfolios.
Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran at Jacinda Ardern's announcement of ministerial portfolios. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand First's promise of free-to-air sports has been given the cold shoulder by the Labour Government.

In an interview with Newshub in early 2017, Mr Peters promised a broadcasting policy that would have the Rugby World Cup and all domestic Tests shown on free-to-air television.

But public broadcasting, not sport, will be the focus of the new Government's broadcasting changes.

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran repeatedly told Newshub, while Labour acknowledges there's an issue with accessing major sports events on television, it's not a priority for the Government.

Ms Curran said, to make significant sport events free-to-air, there would need to be a way to ensure sporting codes don't lose out on funding.

"We acknowledge that there's an issue there," Ms Curran said. 

"We're saying it's not our first priority, but we are prepared to have some discussions and look at some solutions for the New Zealand public."

"I do acknowledge there's an inequity there. It's about the best way to approach it."

When asked what the best approach might be, Ms Curran said it wasn't the first issue on Labour's agenda, so some more thought needed to go into it.

Instead, the Government will be focusing on public broadcasting.

"Investment in public broadcasting is our priority," Ms Curran said. "We believe, in the short-term, that is what we need to do first."

She said the Government's public broadcasting policy was the most significant change in this country for decades.

The Government's promised to provide $38 million for public broadcasting in 2018/19, saying a new public media service with the working title RNZ+ would be developed.

When the issue of free-to-air sport was raised by NZ First, Mr Peters said there was no question the policy would be implemented.

"I'm not going to say we're going to try to implement it - we will implement it," Mr Peters told Newshub.

"The fact is we don't go around making promises that we don't keep."