Major events should screen on free TV
WARWICK RASMUSSEN - DEPUTY EDITOR
Should major events be screened on free TV?
OPINION: Remember the days when massive sporting events were just that – events?
Overseas rugby test matches and Olympic finals were free-to-air for all to see on television sets around the country.
You watched live because that was the only option. There were no repeats, apart from a few seconds on the nightly news.
Those times are distant memories now as viewers, listeners and readers have myriad sources for their information and demand it when they want it, and when they want it is usually right now.
That's the nature of the changing sports fan environment. If a fan can't find what they want at one place, they will keep looking until they do.
Part of that shift has been the slow-trawl dominance of Sky Television.
The company was founded in the 1980s, but really took off in the early 1990s.
It started out as a simple UHF network, then added digital decoders to its arsenal and started gobbling up major sports events one by one, year after year.
The same happens with regular television shows, but it is in the sporting arena that Sky's main attraction is.
It has some 800,000-plus subscribers and more or less has a monopoly on the pay-TV scene.
Sky can effectively charge what they want as diehard fans will pay if there aren't options available to them. They put up two levels of paywalls, one for the basic subscription, the other for pay-per-view.
So, what's the big deal? After all, it's a money-making venture.
The issue is this: large sporting events, such as rugby tests and Olympics, are important to a country.
Little by little they help define us, and the collective experience we have when we watch them is an intangible that doesn't come along that often.
The big events should be available to all and while we can never recapture "the good old days", something must be done to preserve these iconic events so they don't become out of reach to all New Zealanders.
Sky has the rights to the Olympics in London, and will show some of it on its free channel, Prime.
But is that good enough?
ONE MORE THING
It's one of the more exciting winter events to hit Palmerston North – the ice skating rink in The Square – but there's a small percentage who are tarnishing it. Thousands of people have taken to the ice over the past week and a half, but there have been issues with drunken people late at night taking the skates and causing all kinds of issues for security services and police.
Some people just need to grow up.
- © Fairfax NZ News