Monday, October 5, 2009

Bloody Maoris: TV Edition

It's been a while since we've had a really good race-baiting headline on the front page. Remember that time that Maori were going to charge us when we did a haka in our backyard? Well now they're trying to stop good, honest whites watching rugby. The headline on the front page reads "Thousands will miss out if Maori TV wins rights to Rugby World Cup":

Thousands of people will miss out on free live cover of the Rugby World Cup if Maori Television's taxpayer-funded bid for the right to screen games succeeds.

Maori TV has used $3 million or more of public money from Te Puni Kokiri to boost its bid for the free-to-air rights well above those of TVNZ and TV3.

I get it - some people like rugby, and it's such a massive bloody cultural milestone that it simply must be free-to-air, but let's just do a little bit of editing on this. First, let's change 'will miss out' to 'may miss out'. As a former philosopher, I know nothing about how television is transmitted, but it seems perfectly plausible that some accommodation may be worked out by then. And let's change "has used $3 million or more of public money" to something that doesn't imply that this money has already been spent. It's a bid, like you may have seen on that Trademe website all the kids are talking about.

Then there's the money - "taxpayer-funded", "public money". Subtle, aren't we? Of course I'm not delighted that any money at all is being spent on it, but it's not like Dr Sharples went and took the money from the till in a hospital. It's TPK money; if it turns out that broadcasting rugby is the best way to promote Maori interests, so be it. If you have a problem with TPK getting money at all, that's a different issue. TVNZ is a state organisation too - what do you think their bid consisted of? Magic beans signed by Tony Veitch?

On a more banal level, the moaning continues with a classic factual error. From the print edition:

But from the current online edition:

The good news is that Maori TV have increased their broadcasting range by 5% in just one day - except in the caption, which no one bothered to change. This should mean that they will have full coverage of the country by Wednesday, rendering the issue redundant.

Mr [Bret] Impey [of TV3] said he did not know whether the IRB would assess the quality of the coverage the winning bidder could provide, or take whatever bid was the highest.

"The answer to that doesn't come from TV3. It comes from the International Rugby Board."

I'm sure that an organisation famous for squeezing every last dime out of their four-yearly circus will be playing the world's smallest violin for Mr Impey and the citizens of "Kaikohe, Wellsford and Warkworth".


  1. Monk De Wally De HonkOctober 5, 2009 at 3:44 PM

    So which is correct? 85 per cent or 90 per cent?

  2. Monk De Wally De HonkOctober 5, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    Actually, a little bit of googling shows NZPA's claim to be 85 per cent, a figure which NBR, Stuff, Herald newspaper and are fine to run with. Maori TV's website unfortunately doesn't include information about coverage, sadly, and I can't be arsed to phone them up.

    Suggests to me that the 90 per cent was an erroneous entry in the reporter's original copy and while the copy-editor picked it up for the newspaper, the goons online never bothered to use the checked version.

  3. Actually, it looks to me like someone actually asked Dr Sharples and he said 90%.

    Just because it's Editing the *Herald*, it doesn't mean I think anything else is any better, let alone Stuff.

    Plus I suspect that the NBR didn't run with a "Maoris stealing our rugby" headline on their front page.

  4. Monk De Wally De HonkOctober 5, 2009 at 4:16 PM

    Nor did the Herald.

  5. Patrick Gower doesn't know about Freeview?

  6. @Bryon: You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. Anybody who doesn't already receive Maori Television but wants to can take the proactive step of getting the equipment to receive it. Rather than... well... sitting on bum and expecting the RWC to appear in the lounge courtesy of a beat-up by the People's Champion, The New Zealand Herald.
    The article contains a lot of scare mongering of some fantasy of what could happen if MTS were to win the rights to screen the RWC. The real concern if MTS has the rights is not how many people will not bother to ensure they can receive the broadcast signal, the concern is what sort of commentary and analysis they will have around the games.

  7. So you'd still have to pay to get a Freeview box.

  8. Of course you would. Like I said, you'd have to be proactive. Other than that, so what?

  9. @Anonymous

    You'll have to get one eventually. The government will be fazing out analog TV in 2012. It's actually a pretty good tactic to increase adoption.

  10. Why shouldn't you pay for a Freeview box? I didn't have reception at my place (which isn't rural) so I had to pay to get it. TV isn't some kind of right that everybody should be entitled to have free.