News surfaced this week that Sky and TVNZ had a date with the Commerce Commission after a complaint was laid about their joint venture Igloo and whether it met merger obligations under Section 47 of the Commerce Act. So if the decision goes against it, will it put the kybosh on the new mid-play TV network?
In a story on the NBR, Forsyth Barr analyst Rob Mercer believed it will get the go-ahead, but even if it didn't, Sky's chief executive John Fellet said Sky will still launch on its own, presumably without TVNZ content Heartland and Kidzone or the retail sales skills the national broadcaster brings to the party.
While Igloo's Chaz Savage didn't have anything to add over and above what Sky chief executive John Fellet has said on the matter, he is of the view that Igloo is good for consumers and that should be the main concern for the Commission.
At the moment, Savage and co. are getting on with business and, while the date the decision will be made isn't known, it's thought the Commission is taking into account the scheduled launch date of May/June.
At the launch event in December, all questions about Sky's monopoly were deflected and departing TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis said he had no qualms about competition issues. “Igloo is adding choice" (at the time, Ellis refuted allegations that he made submissions to the review on broadcasting and criticised the dominance of Sky a few years back and dismissed the fact that Freeview will be undermined by this move because it is not a commercial company).
But MediaWorks, which will have the rights to any downloads on the Igloo website and will be paid for them, but misses out on subscription revenue split 51/49 between Sky and TVNZ respectively, probably doesn't see it that way (the Commission was unable to reveal the identity of the complainant).
While the ComCom malarkey is certainly a unwanted spanner in the works for Igloo, another issue is the fact that there is some confusion over wat the product actually offers.
Despite what's been written elsewhere, the content will be in HD where available, movies are between $4.99 and $6.99 and TV episodes are $1.99 (which is identical to iSKY), and there will be no downloading, just streaming via broadband, although many have suggested this 'Sky-lite' package may be used as a way to upsell users to full sky and recording functionality.
The Igloo box costs $200 and around $25 a month for a subscription (plus fees for pay-per-view sport and movies) and offers the ability to cancel the service for a month and then restart it again with no termination fee.
As well as the current Freeview channels, the other channels that are set to feature are Vibe, UKTV, BBC World News, BBC Knowledge, Kidzone24, MTV Hits, National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, Comedy Central, Food TV and TVNZ Heartland.