John Drinnan

John Drinnan is the Media writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Hollywood, Sky TV watch Slingshot deal closely

David Cross, left, and Portia de Rossi in a scene from " Arrested Development" - a Netflix show normally geo-blocked from NZ customers. A new 'global' service from Slingshot - that gets around geo-blocking is being queried by Sky and the Hollywood studios.
David Cross, left, and Portia de Rossi in a scene from " Arrested Development" - a Netflix show normally geo-blocked from NZ customers. A new 'global' service from Slingshot - that gets around geo-blocking is being queried by Sky and the Hollywood studios.

Hollywood and TV broadcasters are casting a cautious eye over New Zealand internet service provider Slingshot's plans to provide back door access to their new TV shows.

Sky TV chief executive John Fellet says studio lawyers don't accept that plans for a service which would effectively allow people to circumvent restrictions on buying content from overseas websites are legitimate.

But it is not yet clear whether opponents will be able to undermine Slingshot's efforts at beating the geo-blocking rules that prevent people in New Zealand from downloading shows before they have been shown on kiwi channels.

Fellet says he has talked with Hollywood studios and was told by lawyers there were problems with anti geo-blocking schemes like that offered by Slingshot.

Sale of TV content through websites like Netflix and Hulu in the United States have become increasingly common and many believe it is the future of television.

Netflix and Hulu aren't available through New Zealand internet service providers because of the geoblocking technology.

In the meantime big content deals with broadcasters like Sky, TVNZ and TV3 are the foundation for studio incomes.

Slingshot insists that its Global Plus service is aimed at overseas visitors only, but acknowledges it does not control who uses it.

Sky TV, Television, New Zealand and MediaWorks owners of TV3 and Four have all been talking with Hollywood studios and say they are "keeping a close watch on developments.

Fellet said he had not yet seen legal opinions from either party.

But he said he had been told that studios had objected to the Max scheme in Australia, and after the sale of the company, the service was no longer offered, "I don't know the similarities or differences between them," he said. Slingshot's Mark Callander says the terms of the deal are spelt out and aimed at overseas visitors who want to access their TV content sites.

He confirmed the company has no way of knowing what content is being obtained by Global Plus customers.

Technology expert Peter Griffin that technically such services were legal.

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