Sky Television is eyeing 3D for a premium-pay television offering once it shuts down its four analogue channels next month.

Chief executive John Fellet said the four analogue channels might deliver 16 high-definition channels or eight 3D channels.

But Ministry of Economic Development radio frequency experts suggest the high-definition estimate was high and 3D was too hard to calculate.

Sky was also looking at technology from United States company Mediaflo which uses UHF signals. These could allow most Sky channels to be picked up on mobile phones without using 3G or 4G telecommunications technology. Both options involve commercially untested technologies.

Last year Sky secured a 10-year lease of the four channels from the Government even though it was clear analogue channels were to be scrapped.

One UHF channel can deliver up to eight standard digital channels.

Cynics point to the battle between Sky and free-to-air TV and question whether Sky renewed its lease partly to ensure it did not get caught in the Government's digital review.

But Fellet said there were no plans to shelve the frequencies.

When the Government ends analogue TV broadcasting, around 2013, Sky will be required to "use or lose" the rights.

Beyond the options for new services - on television or mobile phones - the end of analogue is a pivotal point.

Sky began in 1989 with three analogue channels - for movies, sports and news.

At its peak in 1998 - before Sky introduced its digital satellite platform services - Sky's analogue service had 340,000 subscribers, Fellet said.


Sky's digital free-to-air counterpart is claiming its best quarter since it began in February 2007.

Based on the sale of decoders for the final three months of 2009, 346,116 households are able to receive Freeview.

Most of the increase is in the terrestrial platform that has high-definition capabilities.

Freeview is available in 21.7 per cent of homes, an increase of 3.4 per cent. Combined with about 47 per cent of New Zealanders with Sky Digital, about 70 per cent of New Zealand homes are capable of receiving digital signals.


Shine TV will start on April 1 on the Freeview satellite platform.

Sky Television will begin a new travel channel under its basic package and three more are under consideration.

Travel Channel will be listed as a documentary channel and will have 800 hours of first-run programming each year, or around 16 hours a week.

Sky said subscribers had indicated travel was a gap in its offering. Some travel programming had screened on Julie Christie's independently-owned Lifestyle channel.


Radio New Zealand says it can't afford to send any reporters to cover the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

RNZ did not bid for the broadcast rights for the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne but did send a reporter.

This time the state broadcaster says it cannot even afford that. Asked whether RNZ was in danger of breaching its obligations under its charter spokesman John Barr said that as a non-commercial broadcaster RNZ was limited in its options for covering the costs.

Newstalk ZB and Radiolive are looking at coverage though it is not clear whether this is for broadcast rights or news accreditation.


Television New Zealand insists its decision to bump John Key from Close Up on Tuesday night and run with former All Black Robin Brooke's apology was not because of any commitments to Brooke's representatives.

Clearly it had involved some negotiation. TVNZ has made it clear it finds politics boring for prime time - except in election years when it gets extra scrutiny from political media minders.

But snubbing the PM for a long and overblown tabloid set piece - the mock seriousness of a celebrity apology - illustrates state television's leading role in Kiwi media's shift to tabloid news values.

It's a sign of the 7pm magazine show competing for dwindling advertising revenue.

Campbell Live, which has enjoyed the attention this week of Australian Channel 7 newsman and consultant Neil Mooney, had made the Brooke story its own, but on Tuesday focused on the pre-recorded Key interview.

Scooped by the Brooke "exclusive" it took the unusual step of lifting 45 seconds of the apology from Close Up.

Key shows no signs of complaining about his offhand treatment. This Government has no interest in TVNZ returning to its role as a public broadcaster - everybody from Close Up host Mark Sainsbury to the Minister of Broadcasting is ensuring it does not. But what about the great promise of digital TV? Wasn't the Key interview something that could have featured on taxpayer-funded TVNZ 7?


Online DVD rental company Fatso is hoping to boost sales using New Zealand Post's new Fastfree service offering overnight delivery.

Fatso works by posting DVDs direct to homes and avoiding the hassle of dropping videos back to stores or paying late fees.

Rob Berman, who started Fatso from his garage five years ago, says despite tough times, or perhaps because of them, Fatso has increased sales 40 per cent since January 2009.

But online services represent only 1 per cent of the video rental market in New Zealand compared to 10 per cent in the United States.

Fatso merged with competitors at Movieshack and Sky TV's DVD Unlimited last year, with Sky owning half of the merged firm and delivering a strong marketing tool on Sky channels.

You would think that Sky - with its digital video recorder MySky - would threaten online DVD rental. Digital video recorders, including TiVo and MyFreeview, make it easier to record movies.

TiVo has a recording function and offers movie downloads, which would be more of a direct threat. But Berman says that has not been the case and the online video rental sector was benefiting from an increase in the spend on home entertainment.


Mint Chicks guitarist Ruban Nielson has been loud in his criticisms of big record companies for their lack of support for local signings.

Comments by Neilson and the new online platform - where Mint Chicks will be selling its music - pulled no punches.

But is it a case of multinational baddies versus local goodies?

Music lawyer Chris Hocquard, of the independent company Amplifier, explained that deals typically have three parts - making a record, promoting and distributing it.

"Nowadays it is very easy to get a record made, and with the internet there are plenty of ways of distributing it. But you need a profile. The problem is that record companies are big marketing and promotion firms," he said.

"The Mint Chicks were at a stage they could be distributed independently because of the profile they had built up, partly because they had been with Warners."

Local artists signed to big companies had always had limited access to marketing resources, but with changes to the global industry it was tighter than ever.


Nielson's comments add to the debate about the music industry and the role of taxpayer subsidies. New Zealand On Air pays record companies - including the big corporates - to make records and music videos. The premise is subsidies will lead to more airplay on radio.

But in reality it's a subsidy for the record industry so the majors are less likely to exit the New Zealand market - a move that would make it harder to promote New Zealand bands overseas.

In this environment should Kiwi taxpayers stump up more money for local bands as the cash dries up at studios?

New Zealand on Air chief executive Jane Wrightson said it was not caught up in the sale of records - though clearly that is why it is promoting airplay.

"There is no question that there is a big change going on with more New Zealand bands going independent," said Wrightson.

She said there was a trend for big music companies to focus on Sydney, and a tendency for the sector to move back to live performances as part of their marketing and promotion.