Home' The Wellingtonian : May 24th 2012 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, MAY 24, 2012
Sky TV situation needs regulation
One paradox of the free
market is that it needs to
be regulated to remain
Left to its own devices, the mar-
ket will quickly generate one big
fish that eats all the smaller fry in
the pond, and that skews the mar-
ket to suit itself and its share-
Nothing surprising about that.
Yet it explains why even the
United States has recognised the
need for intervention -- and
indicates why, as long ago as
1910, the United States Supreme
Court broke the stranglehold that
John D Rockefeller and his Stan-
dard Oil Company had achieved
on the US energy market.
In the 1970s, United States
regulators intervened again to
force the country s main tele-
communications company to
break itself up into several
small, competing companies.
New Zealand has been slow to
In a small country like ours, the
risk of one company achieving a
dominant position is high,
especially because the big players
in key areas of the economy are
former state entities -- such as
Telecom -- that began life as state
In the 1990s, for example, the
prevailing climate of light-
handed regulation allowed Tele-
com to virtually run riot.
Telecom used its dominance to
delay the advent of effective com-
petition, stifled the entry of new
technology and hiked costs on
customers and firms alike.
As a result, New Zealand --
whose distance from global
markets has always made modern
telecommunications a strategic
necessity -- still lags behind the
rest of the developed world.
Last week, similar concerns
were being raised about the domi-
nant position enjoyed by Sky TV,
and calls were being made for the
Commerce Commission to play a
more effective watchdog role with
respect to the pay-TV operator.
The trigger for the latest round
of concern? Sky is imposing major
costs on sports bodies, in return
for coverage of their events.
In recent years, Sky has begun
to charge national sports organis-
ations to broadcast their events,
and the fees have reportedly
reached up to $200,000 per event
in some cases.
Ultimately, it is ratepayers and
taxpayers who have to pick up the
tab, via the money they pour into
the sports and tourism bodies
In other countries, effective
competition means that television
firms pay the sports bodies -- and
the winning television company
can then leverages advertising
and pay-TV subscriptions from its
When you re television s main
player -- as Sky increasingly is --
you can screw the scrum in any
way you choose, especially if the
free market watchdog is snoozing
in its kennel.
True, the Commerce Com-
mission has -- belatedly -- said it
will be investigating Sky s deals
with internet service providers for
any signs of monopoly behaviour.
Yet almost simultaneously, the
commission chose to give the all
clear to Sky s recent pay-TV joint
venture with Television New Zea-
land, which will remove a further
tier of competition from the tele-
For now, sports organisations
wanting television coverage have
to deal with Sky, on very much
the terms that the pay-TV oper-
ator puts on the table.
Sky is in the happy position of
enjoying three related income
streams: from the sports bodies,
from ads, and from subscriptions.
Long will it continue to prosper,
so long as regulation remains a
dirty word in New Zealand s pol-
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We would like to thank everyone
who donated food to the
Wadestown Foodbank at the
Crofton Downs shopping mall
collection day on May 12 .
We greatly appreciate the
generosity of the local community,
and our stocks are now well
Our Foodbank is a partnership
between St Lukes Anglican and
churches. We are open on
Tuesdays and Thursdays from
1pm till 2.30pm.
The foodbank is located at
Wadestown Presbyterian church,
corner of Wadestown Rd and
Hanover St. REV SUE FENTON
Wadestown Presbyterian Church
Is the stadium
trust a CCO?
In the story about Wellington
City s Council Controlled
Organisations (May 17), it was
wrong to list the stadium trust as
one of the city s CCOs. It isn t.
It is a regional facility owned by
regional ratepayers and the trust
is accountable to the whole region.
The story was right, however, to
highlight the risks that CCOs
present to the good governance of
publicly-owned assets and it
seems that some of those risks are
now being manifest among
Wellington City s CCOs.
I hope that the whatever
emerges from the governance
reviews around the region will not
lose sight of the fundamental
importance of governance
arrangements that maintain
direct public accountability for
Editor's note: Wellington City
Council lists the stadium trust as
a council-controlled organisation
on its website.
Wellington City Council has lost
two major cases in the
Environment Court recently.
Previously, councillors resisted
taking the spy camera car off the
road before capitulating under a
barrage of criticism from
There is a pattern of council
staff and elected officials not
listening to what ratepayers and
residents want, or what the
Environment Court says they re
The Creswick Valley residents
fought the development there and
won. Now the council is
considering changing the rules to
allow the development to go ahead
In Newtown, when another
liquor store was proposed,
residents rose as one and opposed
it. The result: the proponent
One presupposes that had the
application gone ahead, the
council would have simply
changed the rules to facilitate it,
because that s what they re
proposing to do now, elsewhere.
Under such a regime, Newtown
could easily have been awash with
a slather of booze-barns.
The council appears capricious
for any development whatsoever,
but so far seems to get it right
only when handing out licences
for booze-barns and brothels.
Perhaps our councillors need
raise their own standards first.
The advantages of
travel by bus
Leave you cars at home. Get more
exercise catching a bus. Reduce
congestion on roads and car parks
and eliminate frustrations.
In most cases, people would
have less distance to walk than
railway station commuters in
northern suburbs from car parks.
If improvements on roads from
the CBD to the airport take as
long as Transmission Gully
motorway (1938), there will be a
long wait, because the motorway
should have preference.
Perhaps after a while you may
enjoy the ride in the bus and
arrive at work much more
relaxed. Why, you may even
discuss the weather with the
person sitting next to you.
Stick to the
I am doing my best to keep
Wellington City Council rates
increases to a minimum and those
few citizens who put
contaminated goods out with their
recycling disgust me.
Week after week I see glass bins
with broken glass and green bags
with uncleaned pet food cans,
revolting looking somethings in
them put out for collection in just
one small area of the city.
It is a simple task to put
emptied cans and plastic material
into the dishwater after washing
the daily dishes, give them a good
sluice and then put them into the
The council makes good money
from recycling so do not let these
few ruin what is a great service
for those of us who are able to
follow the simple rules.
I d like to congratulate The
Wellingtonian on its continued
excellent coverage of matters
pertaining to the Wellington City
The council -- officials and
elected councillors -- must be
watched closely, and The
Wellingtonian carries out that role
well. Long may it continue.
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