Labour leader David Shearer is under pressure to apologise, after Sky Sport accidentally played a television advertisement during a live All Blacks game.
The advertisement was played sixteen minutes into the first half of the match against France on Saturday night, prompting numerous complaints by angry viewers.
Sky Television CEO John Fellet quickly apologised for the incident, but blamed the mistake on human error, and on David Shearer.
The public have reacted with anger at the news that somehow David Shearer is to blame. A Facebook page entitled David Shearer Must Immediately Resign From Parliament For The Good Of Sport And So That All Blacks Supporters Can Watch Their Rugby Without Unwelcome Interruptions Like This One, has been set up.
By midday today the site had already attracted 13 likes.
It is not clear where David Shearer was during the game, or if he had access to any big red buttons at the time of the incident.
The Labour leader said he agreed that the advertisement had been “unfortunate”, but denied responsibility for its airing.
He refused to confirm or deny rumours on the internet that four Labour Party MPs were seen in Sky Sport’s control room just before the incident.
“It wasn’t me, and I’d be disappointed if any of my MPs were involved in the incident,” said Mr Shearer.
“It’s not a good look, though.”
He said the party would be issuing a press release on the matter in a week or so.
The blow to the Labour leader comes only days after Sky Sport lost the rights to screen English Premier League football, a loss blamed by most commentators on David Shearer.
Labour’s opponents were quick to take advantage of the error.
“Whether or not David Shearer or anyone from Labour was present in Sky Sport’s control room isn’t the issue,” said Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.
“It’s about Labour being directly responsible for the regulatory environment that led to Sky Sport dropping the ball.
“Can you imagine what a Labour-Greens government would do to live sport?”
But commentator and political strategist Matthew Hooton has pointed the finger at Labour’s deputy leader, Grant Robertson.
“This all points to an imminent leadership challenge,” said Mr Hooton. “It explains everything. My sources have been telling me for months that this would happen.”
Commentator and political historian Chris Trotter agreed.
“The timing cannot be a coincidence, coming as it did on the seventy-second anniversary of the launch of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia during World War Two,” said Mr Trotter.
“On that occasion the forces of right-wing reaction threw themselves against the nation of Joseph Stalin, the man who betrayed the great socialist revolution by ruthlessly purging the party of progressives.