Our big chance to flock to Te Reo commentaries

It looks like the nation is being given a splendid opportunity to express the strength of its enthusiasm for part-Maori rugby commentaries. Or not.

We will be able to cast our votes by tuning into an all-English broadcast – or by opting for broadcasts which include a 5-10% smattering of Te Reo.

The chance to cast these votes is about the only good that comes from the shambles of the battle to win free-to-air Rugby World Cup broadcast rights.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is kicking up a fuss this morning about the gazzumping of the Maori Television Service’s attempt to secure the rights. But let’s face it – he contributed to the shambles by failing to mention to Cabinet colleagues his approval of the spending of $3m of Te Puni Kokiri money for the Maori service to secure the bid.

How can a government shape public broadcasting policy – or state agencies implement it, no matter how ill-considered it might be – when a maverick Maori minister is hell-bent on tilting the playing field?

As Stuff reports today, TVNZ has followed up with a consortium bid involving privately-owned TV3, backed by the Government.

Cabinet will have to sign off funds, likely to be $3m-$4m, if the TVNZ bid succeeds.

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said TVNZ asked for a level playing field.

“You can do the sums – you can see it’s going to be a reasonable amount of money.”

And so – according to Sharples – we now have iwi offering money to boost the MTS bid. Obviously these iwi are not short of a few bucks.

Oh, and let’s note that it’s more important for them to spend on Maori Television’s broadcast of a bloody rugby tournament than on social stuff, such as weaning their people from family violence and beating their mokapuna to death.

According to Stuff –

Sixteen Rugby World Cup games will be live free-to-air no matter whether the TVNZ-TV3 or Maori Television (MTS) wins the right to screen them.

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman yesterday spelled out what would be available if the TVNZ’s consortium bid won.

TVNZ and TV3 would screen six games each, and MTS could screen all 16.

Great. Now let’s see where the audience goes. To the TVNZ and TV3 broadcasts – or to the MTS ones, spiced with a 5-10% sprinkling of Te Reo.

All three channels – we are told – would be able to screen the final, semis and third and fourth playoff.

TVNZ and TV3’s games would include two All Blacks’ pool games each.

MTS could simulcast games showing on the other broadcasters and show other games they do not want, if it agreed to participate.

If MTS won the bid it has agreed to subcontract to the other broadcasters.

Whatever is the outcome, it’s been a sorry affair and has done nothing to smooth relations between the government and the Maori Party.

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