Tew OK with South Africa broadcasting deal

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 01/06/2014

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Super Rugby's next revenue-sharing model, which will bankroll the three Sanzar nations, is yet to be agreed, but New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew has no issues with South Africa's integrity.

Currently, each country can sell its domestic competition and June internationals, with costs and revenue from Super Rugby shared equally in a separate agreement. Expansion to 18 teams, and a subsequent new broadcast deal from 2016, sees that arrangement up for negotiation.

"How it will be split from 2016 onwards has not yet been decided," Tew said. "The three countries have had a preliminary conversation about a variety of mechanisms. It's not going to be decided until after we get the broadcast deals done. No-one is going to agree to a split when they don't know how much money is on the table."

Broadcasters will be presented with the finalised Super Rugby format on June 30, but Tew indicated the hotly contested revenue spilt could take some time to negotiate.

"It could be very late this year or even early next year. It's always the last thing that's agreed."

The three options for revenue sharing include retaining the current three-way split, going back to a previous percentage format, or a system where revenue generated in your own country is retained.

"We won't be supporting that because we would be disadvantaged, and it wouldn't reflect the strength of our brand," Tew said of the latter option, though refusing to publicly state the NZRU's preference.

Under the last deal, South Africa came under fire for sweetening the price of their domestic competition, the Currie Cup, to limit their contribution to pooled revenue. Broadcaster Super Sport paid almost the same ($10 million for 33 Currie Cup games in 2013) as the $10.9 million for 125 Super Rugby fixtures. Comparatively, Sky Television paid the NZRU almost double for the rights to Super Rugby ($11.9 million), as it did for the NPC ($6.3 million).

Tew, however, doesn't buy into the theory the South Africans acted in a deliberate manner.

"We've never agreed with that assessment," he said.

"There was some real competitive tension in the South African market for the first time. They went to the market early. Then we had the global financial crisis strike all of us and the competitive tension left. We might well have done the same thing had the opportunity arisen."

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