Threat to All Blacks-Italy test broadcast

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012

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The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has been left hog-tied as threats of a broadcast boycott of an All Blacks test looms.

Sky is unable to guarantee the test against Italy on November 12 will be beamed back to New Zealand because it has yet to reach live agreement terms with the rights' holder.

Having sold broadcasting rights of the All Blacks matches to Sky, the NZRU has been reduced to the role of spectator. It is relying on Sky to solve the issue to ensure fans and commercial partners, such as new sponsor AIG whose logo features on the players' jerseys, are not disadvantaged.

"Sky is keeping us informed and as this is a matter between broadcasters, we are not involved in negotiations," NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said.

"However, there is sufficient time still available and we remain hopeful that the issue will be resolved."

Former NZRU chief executive David Moffett, who noted Sky will hardly be thrilled the sticky issue has become public, sympathised with Tew.

"The best he can hope for is that the matter is resolved quickly and without compromising the All Blacks' supporters and Sky's subscribers. There's not very much the NZRU can do. It is not their place to do anything and like everything in this world, the issue will be about money," Moffett said.

"It is a bit like the Italian rugby union asking the NZRU to sort something out for them," he said.

"They can't do anything because they have sold the rights. It will be a standoff about the payment, or how much it should be, there is no doubt about that."

Sky spokeswoman Kirsty Way yesterday said the broadcaster remained "very hopeful" of agreeing terms, and negotiations were continuing.

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- Canterbury

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