Topic: Pacific Affairs

Free-to-air sport and TV for the Pacific

By Ripeka Timutimu

The Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi hopes that the new broadcast initiative announced by New Zealand will stay permanently in the Pacific.

The New Zealand Government announced a special initiative that will see up to eight hours of high quality content a day made available to Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea set to broadcast in early 2016.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will provide approximately $400,000 a year in additional funding to support the initiative.

Prime Minister John Key says, “Given the Pacific’s love of sport, we are particularly pleased that a number of sports rights holders, including SANZAR, have given their support to the project.”

The coverage will include free-to-air access to selected Super 15 matches, Rugby Championship Tests and ITM Cup matches, as well as news, documentaries and entertainment.

Te Kāea spoke to several Pacific leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby who were excited to see broadcasters commit to this initiative.  

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna said, "We are huge All Blacks fans so we are real interested in seeing this programme come to reality."

Prime Minister of Niue, Toke Talagi says, "We were interested because in our discussions with Murray McCully, I said if you want to continue to have influence in the Pacific one of the ways is broadcast, so continue broadcast programs particularly sports, we are very happy and the people of Niue will continue to watch."

"This initiative will significantly increase the amount of content available to Pacific audiences, and will help showcase New Zealand productions in the region,” says Mr Key.

New Zealand will also support Pacific broadcasters with technical assistance and training to help create more local content.

Māori Television is among the agencies helping to fund the initiative by providing content at no cost.