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No free-to-air sport for Kiwi fans

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/03/2017

Sports fans aren't going to be able to watch major events live on free-to-air television, despite the best efforts of NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell drafted the member's bill to amend the Broadcasting Act and on Wednesday night it came up for its first reading.

Parliament adjourned just before a vote was taken, but with National and Labour opposing it there's no doubt about the outcome - it will be heavily defeated.

"This is important, it's about treating all New Zealanders fairly and equally," Mr Mitchell said when he kicked off the first reading debate.

"It's about putting the rights of Kiwis above those of the multinationals... how can any party in its right mind say this isn't good for New Zealanders?"

Mr Mitchell said it cost about $1000 a year to watch All Black Tests and other big matches on Sky Sport, and many people couldn't afford it.

Government MPs said the bill was "populist pandering".

"Nothing is free, someone has to pay for it," said Brett Hudson.

"Some organisation is going to have to invest in and assemble a whole lot of equipment - are we going to dig into taxpayer money?"

Labour's Trevor Mallard said there was no way the bill could pass.

"No government is going to take $125 million a year off sport, that comes from broadcasting rights," he said.

"The member's heart is in the right place, it's a pity his brain wasn't engaged."

The Greens said there were many problems with the bill but they thought it should go to a select committee so there could be a discussion about its proposals.

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