TVNZ's digital shenanigans this year have been as dramatic as its soap operas. In the New Year the state-owned enterprise proposed a digital TV partnership with European cable giant NTL. The deal carried a $200 million price tag but what's that to a company which pays Paul Holmes $700,000 and has 124 staff earning $100,000 plus?
Way too much, according to broadcasting minister Marian Hobbs, who quashed the deal and ordered the execs back to the drawing board.
Looking for a more economic route to digital nirvana, TVNZ flirted briefly with Sky before the relationship fizzled. Now, it has announced plans to partner with telco Telstra/Saturn at the bargain-bin cost of $10 million. TVNZ and Telstra/Saturn say they will be beaming digital TV into kiwi homes by April. Viewers will get free-to-air channels, email and the internet as well as some pay-TV content.
However, unlike the proposed NTL deal, which covered the cost of providing subscribers with free set-top boxes, this plan will charge the user $200 to $300 for this vital piece of equipment. It remains to be seen whether the TV viewing public will be that keen.
TVNZ drops satellite plan - IDGNet
TVNZ flirts briefly with Sky - Stuff
TVNZ going digital by April - NZ Herald
Sky CEO resigns as company faces its biggest challenge yet
Sky TV chief Nate Smith said he welcomed the competition posed by TVNZ's partnership with Telstra/Saturn and then promptly announced his resignation. To be fair, it had been planned for months and incoming boss John Fellet was wheeled out for the edification of share holders at the Sky annual meeting.
The impact on Sky:
TVNZ decision pits Telstra against Sky - NZ Herald
Sky's Nate Smith resigns and new CEO John Fellet makes an appearance
Sudden goodbye to Sky from chief executive - NZ Herald
Digital Tap Now On But Don't Expect a Bandwidth Flood
It was years in the coming and finally this week the Southern Cross cable went live. But internet users were warned not to expect massive leaps in speed. It doesn't increase the top speed so much as make room for more users at a consistently high speed, explained Telecom's Anthony Briscoe. Not all the bandwidth will be available until the end of the year and even then, predictions are that capacity will run out in two years. Meanwhile, ISP Ihug, which is leasing capacity on the cable, is adopting a cautious approach to bringing it online. It's waiting for inevitable new technology wrinkles to be ironed out first.
Ihug cautious as cable goes live - IDGNet
Net bandwidth to spare, for the moment - NZ Herald