Olympic Rights Dollars And Sense Its all about money

Consumers expect to watch whatever we want whenever we want, including the Olympics. So the natural inclination is to oppose Sky TV and a raft of new restrictions imposed on NZME and Stuff – restricting amount of its content they can screen for free. But the argument over Sky TV and the row over free dealing online video rights to the Rio Olympics is more straightforward than that.


Stuff reported today:

“New Zealand news websites are this week trying to negotiate a deal that will allow them to freely cover the upcoming Olympic Games – or may pull their reporting teams entirely. Sky TV is attempting to severely restrict the online coverage of the games, with rules that Fairfax executive editor Sinead Boucher said were unprecedented. 

Unknown-68Rules that were suggested and have since been negotiated away include a requirement that websites wait three hours before using video highlights, which are allowed under “fair use” terms in copyright law and not criticising Sky commentary.The issue is still being negotiated today and it will be clearer whether Sky backs down or whether the solution or other media companies will reduce their commitment to covering the Rio Olympic Games if they don’t back down.

Of course its all about money. Sky’s position is that has paid a lot of money for Olympic rights and that it is broadcasting a lot of content on its free to air channel Prime. Former NZ Herald editor in chief Tim Murphy in “The Spinoff” wrote on the dispute this week and focused on the concerns of the other media companies.”It’s an attempt to get competitors to set aside NZ copyright law,” he said. That view was backed by another former NZ Herald editor in chief, media commentator Gavin Ellis, on Radio New Zealand today. Unknown-65Ellis suggested it may be time the government ends its laissez faire approach to media. Both suggested that proposals from Sky TV would not fit within fair dealing provisions in New Zealand Copyright law. The confirmation or dismissal that might only be resolved by a legal argument that might not be settled before the 2021 Olympics, but certainly not Rio.

Rights holders are obliged to play the Olympics for free to air TV – and Sky is playing a lot of coverage over to Prime. Sky’s claim is that it can onsell clip rights, but he claims the media companies have not shown interest in that. Both companies – which are set to merge later this year – are focused on their digital arms and now have greater need for video content, Sky  claims its allocations of free video is more generous than rights holders in other countries.

Fellet said in the past overall Olympics coverage is loss making and they cannot afford to give away content.

Unknown-67 “Their (NZME and Fairfax’s) business model has changed and they want to use our content for free. He said the content was available but it appeared the parties were only interested in free and was not interested in paying, he said. That position could not be immediately verified. If Sky TV were withholding clip rights or overcharging there would be a simple argument about wrongful use market dominance. Sky has faced those accusations in the past over its dominance of sports. There may be an element of that. But this seems like more a row between competitors over price, than it is a principled argument over the public rights to see national events.



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