Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman is expected to announce soon that Prime Television will join Freeview in the next six to eight weeks.

It is not clear whether Sky TV's Prime will end up on the Freeview satellite platform, the terrestrial platform or both.

Prime on Freeview would be a big win for Coleman who has been trying to end a digital TV impasse with Sky's pay-TV and Freeview's free-to-air platforms in a bitter - if mismatched - rivalry.

The Government encouraged Crown-owned company TVNZ to move digital channels TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 on to the Sky platform, which happened this month.

The pay-off to TVNZ is that the potential audience for TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 has now trebled. Also, it now has more regional advertising breakouts on Sky satellite digital signals.

Prime on Freeview would clear the way for a shutdown of analogue signals from 2013 to 2015.

Having waited out a delayed regulatory review of Sky's power by Labour, Sky has done rather well under this Government. But Sky insists there is no Machiavellian reason for holding back Prime - it has just been watching its pennies.

In May, Coleman called for talks between Prime and the state-owned transmission company Kordia.

Chief executive John Fellet had said Kordia was looking at an "entry level" deal for Prime.

Prime's move to Freeview depends on Kordia offering Sky a cut-rate and it is understood that it is close to fruition.

But an industry insider said Kordia was still nervous that other prospective independent channels would want the same lowered rate as Sky.

Kordia made a $4.4 million deficit for the six months to December 31.

State-owned enterprises were ticked off by the Government at the start of this year and told to perform better.

Now they are being encouraged by their shareholder - the Government - to offer a cut rate deal to a potential customer.

Kordia declined to discuss its negotiation with Sky but confirmed that it had produced a rate card setting out the cost of running Freeview channels.

The Freeview consortium - which sells access to the electronic programming guide - has said that talks with Sky are ongoing.

RUGGER BUGGER

Cynics argue Sky has been in no rush to put its free-to-air channel on Freeview.

Sky plays down transmission issues for Prime on analogue. But Prime's delayed rugby coverage would have a better signal on Freeview than it has on its analogue signals, potentially making it more attractive to viewers.

But a better free-to-air signal for rugby could potentially discourage some fans from subscribing to Sky

DARK ARTS

The row over Social Development Minister Paula Bennett releasing details about benefits paid to her critics says as much about about the inquisitiveness of media that broke the story as it does about Bennett announcing private information to the world. Let's ignore the problem of the Labour Party and their inability to find genuinely poor people, and columnists like Matthew Hooton, David Cohen and Bill Ralston insisting it is all right for the Government - well this Government anyway - to dig up and publicise facts about its critics.

The real question is whether media breaking the story asked the two women how much they were being paid - as you'd expect - removing the need for Bennett to dig up the information herself. Media, of course, have no wish to stop the free flow of information from Government, with its huge reservoir of personal information about individuals.

The difference between Bennett and the last government is that Labour happily slipped personal details - such as Judy Bailey's $800,000 pay packet in December 2004 - to the media. Bennett was blatant about using her access to silence a critic but pretty clumsy with the dark art of using private information to bust criticism.

But she would not have had to if media had asked the awkward questions in the first place.

NEXT AT NEXT

Brenda Ward recently stood down as editor of Next "to pursue new opportunities". So who is next to edit ACP's monthly magazine, which once seemed a template for all its magazines?

ACP New Zealand chief executive Paul Dykzeul says he is looking for a replacement and he has been bringing change to the company.

But gossip about suitable contenders has a slightly retro feel. Who might you approach? Wendyl Nissen - I hear you say - a high-profile columnist-about-town and former Women's Day editor who made her first magazine splash with ACP.

Or Louise Wright and Kirsty Cameron, who both went to public relations and are veterans from the days when ACP had a big middle management - a tier that Dykzeul has successfully dismantled.

The only outsider mentioned around the media traps is Bridget Hope, the editor of Simply You and the daughter of Paula Ryan and Don Hope, making her magazine royalty ... of sorts. Of course Dykzeul may surprise us all.

He is hands-on and inclined to support some individuality on titles, a marked contrast to the old days when many magazines seemed like Next with a twist.

STARDUST

Lindsey Dawson was the founding editor when Next was launched in 1991. She says that initially ACP bosses in Australia were sceptical that it would work. It started out partly with a focus on homes and craft at a time when that genre was taking off.

Dawson says her creation has altered with each editor but the major difference was that there were more celebrity stories - "stardust" - than there was in her day.

SPIN COMMITTEE

Advertising industry body Caanz has pulled back the diaphanous sequined curtain between public relations and the advertising industry.

The communications body has set up a special committee for PR types.

Caanz has been expanding beyond the central business for brand creative and media buying into direct marketing.

More money is now going to marketing communications (Marcoms) - which includes the good people who send media samples of clients' fine products.

Caanz Marcoms subcommittee chairwoman Claudia Macdonald said that with PR stunts and "experiential" marketing, PR was becoming a bigger part of the advertising business.

PETER SPENCER

New Zealand ad folk will mourn the death of Peter Spencer, a former agency boss who moved to recruitment and head-hunted many of the industry's top leaders.

In his time, Spencer led ad agencies Masius, Mattingly and O&M.

He bought recruitment agency Marsden Inch in 1996.

Y&R advertising chief executive Jon Ramage mourned the passing of his friend and ad industry identity.

"He was a mate - but he also got me my first job at Ogilvy, head-hunted me to Colenso BBDO and then to Y&R, Ramage."

Spencer died from a heart attack on Monday. He was 62.