TelstraClear wants part of the fast-broadband action but says Sky is hogging the rights
Telstraclear and Sky Television have cast a cloud over their sunny relationship as the pay TV partners turn into new-media rivals. The telco - wholly owned by Aussie phone giant Telstra - has effectively accused Sky of hoarding online TV rights.
Sky's programming deal has been derided as being too restrictive and TelstraClear has said that regulators may need to take a look.
New Zealand's second biggest telco owns Saturn cable TV in Christchurch and Wellington and plans to expand into internet TV. Times are changing.
For the past five years TelstraClear has been uninterested in New Zealand TV and happily contracted Sky, which was effectively rebroadcast on Saturn.
But with the Government push to expand ultra-fast broadband, TelstraClear is getting serious about a nationwide pay TV offering.
It is blasting Sky for the deal the two corporates signed at the start of last year. In particular TelstraClear is complaining it is prevented from obtaining programming from outside sources - content it says it will need if it is to stand out in the New Zealand market.
"It's a competition issue,"said Steve Jackson, the head of consumer business at TelstraClear, who said Sky's approach to releasing online rights was the nub of the issue. "We want to be able to aggregate content to build a compelling offer that goes with ultra-fast broadband.
"We have said that we would like content, and they have said that they would make it available to us but only when they have broadcast it themselves."
When it buys pay TV rights for shows, Sky routinely buys extensive online rights.
"But there is very little online content.
"They buy the online rights, don't do anything with them and then stop us using them."
Sky will also be eyeing the broadband rollout and the prospect that the next big expansion of the pay TV business will be online.
Sky TV chief executive John Fellet has said that he pulled out of internet TV because data caps imposed by internet service providers made it unviable.
As for TelstraClear, he insisted this week he still wasn't clear on its problem.
It was surprising that concerns were not hammered out then when the four-year programming deal was renegotiated last year.
Fellet said Sky's approach in making content available to other platforms was to allay concerns about competition and the dominance of its platform.
He did not know what programmes Telstra had missed out on and questioned whether TelstraClear's approach was because its parent company - Telstra - had bought programme rights covering both Australia and New Zealand.
"Hey, they should give me a call," he said.
CONTENT IS KING
A lot has changed since TelstraClear re-signed with Sky TV at the start of last year.
The Government has announced backing for a fibre-optic rollout and Telstra has increased its oversight of its half-hearted investment in its New Zealand arm and in pay TV.
This Government is acknowledging that content is an issue with uptake of broadband. With better broadband there is room for offers for phone, mobile, broadband and pay TV.
Telstra has had plenty of experience in Australian pay television. It owns 50 per cent of the dominant pay company Foxtel, with a further 25 per cent each owned by Consolidated Media and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
News owns a controlling 42 per cent stake in Sky TV. Telstra's limited interest in New Zealand pay TV has allowed a cosy relationship.
But the realisation that the availability of content will have a key role in broadband may change the approach from Telstra now that former chairman and New Zealander David Thodey has been appointed chief executive.
Television One's programme promotion for the new-look Fair Go is beautifully shot. It should boost viewing numbers when the series starts on May 5.
But let's hope they don't get carried away with a makeover of the consumer show.
The promos feature Alison Mau centre stage with co-presenter Kevin Milne opining: "Life is better when what you want is what you get."
Mau squeezes a lemon at the camera and invites viewers to not get a lemon but to "get the juice".
Mau works on the show two days a week and is a presenter, not a reporter.
Fair Go is one of TVNZ's oldest shows and biggest money earners so fits with the notion that if it ain't broke don't fix it.
In the past the programming and marketing folk at TVNZ have eyed up the show and wanted to sex it up into an entertainment format like TV3's less credible Target.
The news folk have tried to maintain Fair Go's integrity as a news and current affairs programme - with all of the legal oversight that involves.
The question now is whether those controls remain on the true news and current affairs programmes at state TV.
Alison Mau is usually smart. Her wrong-headed rant against Woman's Day magazine on Breakfast - accusing them of hiring paparazzi to film her - was a lapse of judgment which can be blamed on TVNZ management as much as her.
Her use of the state TV show for a personal payback is the subject of a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Now she mixes two days a week on Fair Go with other TVNZ gigs including Breakfast.
With its production standards, she would be best to avoid those personal rants.
One of the most enduring relationships in New Zealand advertising has been between ASB Bank and TBWAWhybin.
And one of the most hardy annual stories has been speculation about the future of the Goldstein advertising campaigns for the bank. Now both are are up for grabs with ASB Bank reviewing and putting its advertising business out to pitch.
There is no guarantee that Goldstein will get the chop - but after a decade you do wonder how much longer he can survive.
Who will be asked to pitch? I hear TBWAWhybin has been invited to try again for the business and both Y&R and M&C Saatchi have lost bank accounts lately.
Meanwhile, it was announced this week that the Saatchi & Saatchi group account director for the Westpac Bank account, Joanne McDonald, has defected to DDB to work on the ANZ Bank account.
* Award-winning ad agency Special Group has been appointed design and communications agency for Ecostore to help drive its ambitious growth in New Zealand, Australia and internationally.
LIFE AFTER SAATCHI
Former Saatchi & Saatchi high-flyers Andrew Stone and Mike O'Sullivan have linked up with the Droga5 advertising agency, which has offices in New York and Sydney. The Droga5 group will have a majority stake in a new Droga5 New Zealand agency.
The deal answers many of the questions about the future for the pair who played a big part in some of New Zealand's biggest ad campaigns and who left Saatchi last year amid upheavals there.
The soon-to-leave executive director of TV3 Ian Audsley is expected to leave the channel earlier than expected, and in the next two weeks.
He is being considered to succeed Warwick Syphers as chief executive of the Australian regional broadcaster Prime TV Australia.
The Australian Financial Review has reported Prime shareholder the Seven Network was understood to be supporting Audsley - former chief operating officer for the Nine Network whose major impact has been to kill Sunrise.
Audsley would likely receive a good reference from MediaWorks chairman Brent Harman, a former chief executive and director of Prime TV Australia who hired Audsley for the temporary appointment.
Audsley will be replaced by former TVNZ marketing director Jason Paris, who starts in June.
MediaWorks staff expect that if there are to be more cutbacks they will likely be while Audsley is still in charge.