John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

Glitches delay Igloo pay TV launch

Chaz Savage.   Photo / Brett Phibbs
Chaz Savage. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Software glitches have forced another delay for the new pay TV joint venture Igloo - now tipped for a "best case scenario" launch in early September.

Igloo will offer a "Sky-lite" package of 11 channels including Food TV to National Geographic Channel, Kidzone24 and Comedy Central, delivered on a digital terrestrial platform.

It will stream films and TV episodes from the internet straight to TV sets, competing with the new Quickflix.

Igloo was due to launch in late June, then July and then early August.

Yesterday general manager Chaz Savage said he could not give a start date until he knew for sure it would be ready an d it might launch early September "as a best case scenario". It is an open-ended delay that suggests the problem has not yet been pinpointed.

Savage was "genuinely gutted" having to delay the launch but said it was a full technology build with hardware and software which is no mean feat and never without its challenges.

The problems related to interconnectivity with the internet.

Igloo is 51 per cent owned by Sky TV and 49 per cent by TVNZ, but the platform is run by Sky TV which dominates the pay television industry and is in 50 per cent of homes.

Sky TV chief executive John Fellet said Igloo offered a technology that had not been used in New Zealand before and there were bound to be technical issues.

Sky TV's popular personal video recorder "MySky" was also delayed two months due to technical glitches when it was introduced to the market.

Sky and TVNZ have promoted Igloo as providing more options for customers at a lower entry point for pay TV than Sky.

TV industry competitors like TV3 owner MediaWorks have been critical of the relationship between the pay TV giant and the state broadcaster, with claims the joint venture is designed to discourage new competition.

The Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (Tuanz) has been sceptical about the urgency of Igloo.

"We're not entirely sure what purpose Igloo serves in the market," said Tuanz chief executive Paul Brislen.

- NZ Herald

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