I don't understand the Commerce Commission.

Well, I do to a point. Its decision on the Sky-Vodafone merger had logic to it. Vodafone gets sport, and uses it to leverage people across to its service, and we apparently can't have that, because as the Commission head said: "It's the glue that binds us".

Well, actually, it isn't - because half the country can't get access to it.



Because Sky has it. Sky did years ago what Vodafone want to do now: buy something to give it an edge against competitors.

So if half the country doesn't have Sky, it can hardly be something that binds us, and in that is the modern and ever-changing world of media. Nothing binds us anymore.

The days of us gathering around the TV at night to share in a gripping episode of whatever it was that grabbed the nation's attention are over and they're not coming back.

The danger in the Commission not understanding that is that companies are limited in how they respond to this fluid environment.

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Potentially, Fairfax has a world of trouble if this month's merger with NZME doesn't go ahead, which given the Voda-Sky decision, it won't.

So the question, I would've thought, is simple.

Why is Sky allowed to control so much of what "binds us" and in doing so have half the country miss it?


Yet Vodafone can't get access to such a product.

By the way, Sky only has the sport because no one outbids it. You'll remember a year or so back, Coliseum got the English Premier League for a while. Made a dreadful job of it and subsequently vanished into thin air.

But the reality is these sports have contracts, all contracts expire and all those contracts are open for bidding.

So the Commerce Commission is placing a tremendous amount of weight on one product and in doing so preventing businesses getting on with business.

The part that confuses me is that it's just an opinion. It's an interpretation.

It's not measuring it against anything. It's not like a law, where you're either right or wrong and there is no black and white.

But this is just a conclusion arrived at after a bunch of people have presented their cases, and I can't help but think it's the conclusion of some people who haven't quite grasped the complexities of the modern media world.

Ironically, fresh from the Commission decision and off the back of lawyering up and looking to fight the Sky-Vodafone merger, if it was given the go-ahead, is Spark, which, lo and behold, has a deal with Netflix.

It's giving it away.

So tell me the difference. Vodafone can't buy Sky to help promote its service, but Spark can give Netflix away for free to promote its service.

For many people, getting access to House of Cards is just as important as getting access to the Black Caps.

Would Vodafone have leveraged its deal with Sky to convince you to use its phone or broadband? Of course. But what's wrong with that?

Sky uses the All Blacks to get you to buy its product, Spark uses Netflix to get you to buy its product.

Volvo is giving away a trip to Sweden if you buy its cars.

Where is the line?

Business is about buying, building, inventing, promoting something that gives you an edge, that separates you out from the field, that gains you market share.

So much of what is happening to modern media is coming from outside this country and it's beyond our control.

It just looks like the Commerce Commission hasn't quite worked that out and is trying to fight some antiquated rearguard action that's doomed to fail and, worse, take New Zealand companies and their jobs down with it.

- NZME is the publisher of the Herald and other newspapers, and the owner of Newstalk ZB and other radio stations. The Commerce Commission's decision on the proposed merger between NZME and Fairfax is expected on or before March 15.