Hard News by Russell Brown

Doing it for the kids ...

As I exclusively revealed, um, nearly two years ago, Sky has been negotiating with MTV Asia and will be launching "a wholly-owned and operated localised MTV" on August 19. Well, they got there in the end, didn't they?

MTV New Zealand will, according to Sky, "deliver shows that MTV viewers love alongside presenters who can fully engage with the unique and vibrant entertainment scene in New Zealand," and is further promising "unique local productions that focus on New Zealand youth culture and music." There will also, naturally, be local ad sales. No word on what becomes of Juice TV, but it doesn't look promising.

Sky is also promising a revamped and localised Nickelodeon.

Ouch. David Cunliffe's observation that Telecom might have to reduce dividends to fund investment wasn't just a matter of the bleeding obvious, it would have been bleeding obvious pretty much any time in the last 15 years. In public interest terms, we'd be better placed if Telecom had chosen to use some of the money it pumped out to shareholders ($5.5 billion in the 1990s, wasn't it?) for capital investment.

That's an observation I can make without fear of reproach, but not one the minister could make, because he is considered, effectively, an insider. So the Securities Commission is on the case, and it is all very embarrassing.

(Update: I see Cunliffe has clarified his comments and noted that he had had no information on Telecom's future dividend policy when he made the comments. Telecom is saying the same thing. It seems that although Cunliffe was an insider in a general sense, the key will probably be whether he had information on dividend policy in particular.)

Meanwhile, reader Rodney King emailed to say that the cause (although it may not have been the only one) of Xtra's outages this week lay with its DNS servers:

A few people fault-found the problem and manually selected another DNS server from the internet, if they could remember one, and were disappointed to find that even with 99.9% of Xtra users offline it was not particularly faster. Go figure!

That probably won't mean much to most users, for whom DNS servers are automatically configured at login, but Rodney points out that if Xtra had been more forthcoming about the nature of the problem, "more tech-savvy users" would have found another DNS to use and eased the load on Xtra's own helpdesk.

Finally the decision not to refund the lost time, in comparison with Sky in its Satellite TV outrage, grates. Consider that the service was always there (perhaps that's why no discount) but Xtra chose not to let you know how to access it.

The DNS issues may have been a symptom rather than the root of the problems - a media email from Xtra yesterday blamed power supply issues and then a "faulty load-balancer", followed by additional load as customers repeatedly tried to log in. But Rodney's points are well made.

Usually when I point out some mad-headed and obscene comment by a right-wing blogger I am accused of ignoring similar similar sentiments in the liberal blogosphere. But I really can't imagine any lefty-liberal (not even the ones wetting themselves over Hugo Chavez) doing this.

As Iraq becomes not such a good story - not since most schools and universities closed their doors on account of the deteriorating security situation, the anti-gay death squads got going and the Minister of Health ordered that men and women must ride in separate elevators - America's wingers have had to look elsewhere for a home for their anger, and they've chosen illegal immigrants (Mexicans in particular) and their "invasion" of America.

Bush, who seems to be increasingly making things up on the spot, suddenly declared he was sending troops to the Mexican border. But even he felt bound to point out that "massive deportation" of America's 12 million illegals (on whose cheap labour American agriculture depends) was "unrealistic".

This wasn't good enough for Vox Day, a nasty little prick who calls himself a "Christian libertarian" (yup, such creatures exist, and they really seem to be the worst people in the world - adopting the intellectual narcissism of libertarianism without the logic, and the moral imperiousness of Christianity without the love or charity). No, he said this:

[Bush] lied when he said: "Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it's just not going to work."

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.

Yeah, that Hitler guy knew how to get the job done, didn't he? The extraordinary thing is that Day's poisonous commentary appeared on what is supposed to be a fairly mainstream conservative website. The offending words were eventually removed, without acknowledgement or apology, but how on earth could they be posted in the first place?

Day certainly wasn't apologising: on his blog, he declared anyone who was appalled by his logic to be "dumber than one would imagine".

Andrew Sullivan was moved to make him a Malkin Award nominee. Indeed.

Meanwhile, old Indy veteran RobO takes a look at the new Independent Financial Review and likes what he sees. Not a good day for the paper's website to be down, though …

So, yeah, Budget day. I have other commitments tomorrow morning (including preparing for Webstock and teeing up the next Great Blend) so I probably won't have time to write a commentary. But I do have something else, which you may find amusing, to hand …