INSIGHT: Why stopping Global Mode is an attack on consumer choice

Proposed legal action from Sky, Lightbox, TVNZ and Mediaworks to stop Global Mode is a "huge blow" to consumers.

The proposed legal action from Sky, Lightbox, TVNZ and Mediaworks to stop Global Mode is a "huge blow" to consumers, according to Consumer NZ.

As reported by Computerworld New Zealand, Sky, Lightbox, TVNZ and Mediaworks threatened Slingshot, Orcon, Bypass Network Services and other ISPs with legal action unless they cease operation of Global Mode and other similar services in New Zealand.

Global Mode allows New Zealanders access to legal content from overseas websites that are blocked by geographic restrictions (geoblocks) - these services include streaming video on demand sites, such as Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant Video and US Netflix.

According to Consumer NZ, what is available overseas is "just as fast, more accessible" to those with impairments, in many cases easier to use, cheaper, and often of equal or higher quality to what is offered here.

So, why should New Zealand consumers be lumped with an inferior product?

Consumer chief executive Sue Chetwin says this move by Sky, Lightbox, TVNZ and Mediaworks was simply protectionism of old content distribution models.

“While they may argue that this is not about taking action against consumers, it’s exactly consumers who will end up paying more because of this,” Chetwin says.

"Consumers will always look for the best deal, and if that isn’t offered by a New Zealand company then they shouldn’t be stopped from looking overseas for a better deal."

For New Zealanders with visual and hearing impairments, Chetwin says the need to access overseas services is greater as no New Zealand-based service, including state broadcaster TVNZ, offer audio descriptions or closed captions.

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