Free-to-air channel wins suit against pay TV operator over rugby screening

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MediaWorks NZ logo. Note, CanWest no longer holds a stake in MediaWorks.
Image: MediaWorks..
Sky Network Television logo.
Image: Sky..

MediaWorks has won their suit against the only pay television operator in New Zealand, Sky Network Television. The injunction was first filed due to Sky broadcasting too much coverage of the Rugby World Cup, which TV3, owned by MediaWorks, has the exclusive television rights to in New Zealand.

A temporary injunction was issued on September 12 and a full hearing took place that Friday. However, the Judge, Justice Helen Winkelmann, reserved her decision and released it this morning.

The Auckland High Court injunction will prohibit footage being used on Sky programmes The Cup, and Reunion. Sky-owned free-to-air channel, Prime Television, is also prohibited from using footage for The Crowd Goes Wild. These shows were described as being in a magazine style, and not in a news and current affairs format.

TV3 does have an agreement with Sky, as well as with TVNZ (Television New Zealand), which allows use of it's footage for "hard news programmes", but not on niche or magazine styles shows.

On the news format shows, only three screenings spaced three hours apart each day will be allowed. John Fellet, chief executive of Sky, said that broadcasting will continue as normal for it's news shows, such as Sport 365. Sky Sport 1, Sky Sport 2, Sky Sport 3, and SKY Sports Highlights will be counted as one channel for the total allowable screening time.

Rick Friesen, chief operating officer of MediaWorks, said, "The judge has clearly understood all the issues in this case and upheld TV3's right to protect its interests, expanding significantly upon the temporary order issued last week."

Sky have stated that they will now crack down on TV3's use of their footage. Sky has the rights to most sports, including the Super 14, Tri-Nations, and more. Fellet said, "It looks like in the longer term we have won, one way of the other. ...We will now reciprocate by closely scrutinising MediaWorks' use of Sky footage."

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