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Access: Geoblocking, global mode and NZ as a disgraceful accessibility backwater

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  • Russell Brown,

    Thanks for permission to republish this, Jonathan.

    I can actually see both sides of the broader argument. What we’re experiencing is the uncomfortable transition between a territorial rights model which is still the basis of the global television market – and an inevitable but still sketchy post-territorial world.

    But on the issues you outline above, there aren’t really two sides. It is, indeed, a disgrace.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The NZ broadcasters need to pursue foreign producers over the 'exclusive' rights they were misleadingly sold, rather than play Canute with NZ customers.

    Genuine accessibility should be a regulated bottom line for anything broadcast in New Zealand, whatever the medium. I was glad to see the Green party promoting a closed captioning policy during the last general election, fronted by deaf MP Mojo Mathers. It's a start.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Sacha,

    NZ broadcasters need to pursue foreign producers over the 'exclusive' rights they were misleadingly sold

    I think that is 'real' reason for the approach by rights holders. Just as in copyright ,the Hilton Hotel chain goes after a West Coast flyspot backpackers with the same name, showing you are trying to protect the exclusive rights you have is part of the legal game you have to play.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    showing you are trying to protect the exclusive rights you have is part of the legal game you have to play.

    I think they also know there's a distinct chance that they will lose if this gets to court. The Copyright Act seems reasonably clear on access vs copying, which is why we have parallel importing and region-free DVD players.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Regular readers to this blog will remember my post on Radio Sport’s appalling coverage of the cricket world cup.

    Off topic for the most part so apologies, but Radio Sport ugh. The have become all about personalities and a massive staff and less and less about what they used to be, which was a station that broadcast live sport and then discussed it.

    They ditched domestic cricket commentaries which went down like a lead balloon. Ditched their FM frequency, and now have a more or less redundant sport extra station. Redundant because they don't get commentary clashes because they basically hardly do any live commentaries. And this year for the first time since 1990 off the top of my head we have no NRL commentary (aside from the Warriors games). We get no Aussie summer cricket anymore (stopped about 3-4 years ago).

    I would have thought that if you take sport seriously enough to talk about it for hours on end you may actually provide coverage. Yesterday afternoon they have a regular program with the host + Alan Mac and Dale Budge talking for half an hour about the NRL games for the weekend.... Games which they will now proceed to ignore...

    Compare this to the ABC who frequently provide commentary of 3, 4, 5 games AT THE SAME TIME using their web platform.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Slightly off topic but I've realised that the thing that I find most offensive about the current attack on our right to choose who we purchase our media from is that what happens is that someone like Lightbox or Sky goes to someone like HBO or Showtime and negotiates away MY right to choose my media provider for a particular show - it means if I want to watch both Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul I have to purchase subscriptions to both services paying for 95% of their services twice.

    What's missing at all these negotiations is my seat at the table, if you're going to negotiate my choices away, I should get a cut (actually we all should get a cut) - this negotiation gives Sky or Lightbox a monopoly position in New Zealand, and we see Lightbox in particular trying to leverage that monopoly to try and create a market position in the nascent NZ digital TV market.

    Section 27(1) of the Commerce act says "No person shall enter into a contract or arrangement, or arrive at an understanding, containing a provision that has the purpose, or has or is likely to have the effect, of substantially lessening competition in a market."

    While 27(4) says "No provision of a contract, whether made before or after the commencement of this Act, that has the purpose, or has or is likely to have the effect, of substantially lessening competition in a market is enforceable."

    I would argue that Sky, Lightbox and friends don't have a leg to stand on

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    When Cartels Attack, 2015 Online Special Edition.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5442 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    When Cartels Attack

    Pudding, the cartel before the hordes?
    </dweadful cold>
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    what happens is that someone like Lightbox or Sky goes to someone like HBO or Showtime and negotiates away MY right to choose my media provider for a particular show

    I havent heard heard such a load of whinny self entitlement in a long time!. My good friend it is the producers of the show who sell the rights to who ever they choose. As for your rights, you are essentially naked, zilch, nada
    . Oh except when you have paid for them..... which is ....oh the irony... exactly what the distributors have done when they bought them from the producers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    It's an issue as much about rights sellers as rights holders

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Points about accessibility well made. It is perhaps no excuse, but it is hard for start up services, which is essentially what all NZ SVOD services are, to cater for all accessibility options from day 1. Particularly those that don't get funding assistance.

    I think another question to ask is, is it, ultimately, a good thing for nz for rights to all best content to be held by globals? Does having (profitable) regional rights assist that region in terms of making it more likely that someone will invest in regional content?

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    I just realised - realised 'art' is a commodity!
    but ideas/concepts are free...
    ..now how to move them around?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    I havent heard heard such a load of whinny self entitlement in a long time!. My good friend it is the producers of the show who sell the rights to who ever they choose. As for your rights, you are essentially naked, zilch, nada

    It still doesn't give you a right to negotiate a monopoly, the law says it explicitly - in doing so Lightbox is essentially paying whoever make "Better Call Saul" to be the one to charge me (and to charge me more) for the privilege of seeing it. They are negotiating aaway my choice with the hope that they can leverage their monopoly to screw more money out of their market. That is illegal.

    As it happens I also have other rights, I have the right to NOT spend my money on Lightbox because of their monopolistic behaviour, which is exactly what I'm doing - their service might just be the perfect one for me, but they wont get my money while they conspire with others to charge me more and reduce my choices.

    I want to see real competition between digital providers - but heads up guys, when I choose, I'm only going to choose just one of you and it's more likely to be because of what you carry and what you don't carry, and so long as you keep playing silly buggers I'm more likely going to choose an off-shore provider with a wider range of material

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Sorry Paul don't understand your point. Are you suggesting that companies who pay for 'exclusive' rights to offer you content in a competitive market are not, in fact paying to bring you a desirable product, but are instead 'negotiating away your choice and practising monopolistic behavior'? That just seems .... A strange way to look at it.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I'm saying the paying for exclusive rights within New Zealand creates a monopoly with New Zealand - which is illegal, and therefore not enforceable

    (to repeat what I quoted above)

    Section 27(1) of the Commerce act says “No person shall enter into a contract or arrangement, or arrive at an understanding, containing a provision that has the purpose, or has or is likely to have the effect, of substantially lessening competition in a market.”

    While 27(4) says “No provision of a contract, whether made before or after the commencement of this Act, that has the purpose, or has or is likely to have the effect, of substantially lessening competition in a market is enforceable.”

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    So you think the notion of 'exclusive rights' is illegal?

    Problem with that is the creators of content rely on the revenue generated from selling of 'exclusive' rights. Without that we won't get as much quality content. E.g. NZRU depends on selling exclusive rights to all black games, without that it would be difficult to retain the likes of McCaw or Carter.

    At the moment, exclusivity is still a big piece of the content revenue model. We may not like it, but it's still a content sellers market.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    As I read the Commerce act yes I think it is.

    I don't see a problem with the NZRFU licensing rugby to other then Sky, why shouldn't Netflix or Lightbox sell it too? the result is that the subscribers get shafted, want rugby or Game of Thrones, you need a Sky subscription, want Better Call Saul you need LightBox - this manipulation of the market drives prices up and competition out.

    Why aren't there multiple distributers competing to provide rugby at the cheapest price? I don't much care about keeping particular rugby players around, I don't watch it, but it's not a reason why we should force people to purchase stuff they don't want to watch two or three times just to see the things they do want to see.

    That's kind of the point though isn't it, the world is changing, it isn't really a content seller's market any more, they're scrabbling to hold on to their monopolies, consumers have lots of options now - 3-5 digital TV services, broadcast, cable in some cities, Sky - supposedly I'm getting gigabit fibre before the end of the year - that's roughly the same sized pipe as all the data that goes into a residential neighbourhood's cable plant for all the people who watch it in the entire neighbourhood - propably I'll cancel my Sky unless they can convince me I should stay- their MPEG quality sucks because their pipes are narrow. I'm looking much more for an ala carte provider I'll happily pay for the dozen channels I watch regulaly - I want Discovery and not the shopping channels, I'm an athiest but I can't block my kids from seeing the religious channels, I never watch any sport, why is that still on my TV grid? why can't I do an instant replay back skip on my MySky? (for dialog the "what did they say?" button) or skip forward past the ads?

    (disclaimer: I spent a decade or so building set top boxes .. I share 2 Emmys for doing so, I've actually used good ones)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    I think I understand your point but the way content is currently sold makes that end game difficult without ignoring buyers rights. Many people may shrug and say so what, but it's the buyers who are trying to build an nz market (after years of people lamenting the lack of one). And can't see sellers ignoring revenue upside of selling exclusive in a hurry. Also think it will be difficult to ever have all the content you might want in the same place again. That was the sky model. Just cant see content creators happy to sell to many providers at once, and can't see globals interested in buying local. Will be interesting few years.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Slightly off topic but I’ve realised that the thing that I find most offensive about the current attack on our right to choose who we purchase our media from is that what happens is that someone like Lightbox or Sky goes to someone like HBO or Showtime and negotiates away MY right to choose my media provider for a particular show – it means if I want to watch both Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul I have to purchase subscriptions to both services paying for 95% of their services twice.

    Thing is, exclusive territorial rights is how TV – and books and music – have worked for a long, long time. It’s still largely how they work. We’re in the midst of a very uncomfortable paradigm shift, but I don’t see Lightbox as evil for participating in the market as it currently operates.

    I would argue that Sky, Lightbox and friends don’t have a leg to stand on

    This won’t be decided on the Commerce Act. Apart from anything else, anti-competitive is Sky having everything, which is what we used to complain about.

    When Premier League Pass got the rights to British football is was both a case of someone challenging Sky’s overwhelming dominance, and a major pain in the ass for football fans who happened to like another sport that Sky still has.

    The alternative is a regulated wholesale market, which has been dabbled with in the UK.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to llew40,

    Will be interesting few years.

    I think you've nailed it.

    But ... the Copyright Act is, on the face of it, unlikely to provide much joy to the parties who've sent the C&D letter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Yes but things are changing - I can buy my books from Amazon on my Kindle, or at my local book store, or as I used to, take an extra bag when I travel and fill it with books.

    The same happened with music - I could buy from my local CD store, if there still was a good one (Real Groovy bought most of the good ones in Dunedin then went bust), or from ITunes .... if they had a Linux client ..... sadly I used to buy a CD a week, now I buy maybe two a year .... I miss music, I don't really know how to buy it any more, its distributers have failed me, one of their better customers

    TV is about to go through the same paradigm shifts and we're seeing the various platforms jockey for position, bizarrely by doing exactly the things that most piss us off and alienate us

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But ... the Copyright Act is, on the face of it, unlikely to provide much joy to the parties who've sent the C&D letter.

    Looks like yet another law decided on the whim of litigation in any case.

    This won’t be decided on the Commerce Act. Apart from anything else, anti-competitive is Sky having everything, which is what we used to complain about.

    SKY also put TVNZ Kidzone & TVNZ Heartland behind a paywall after TVNZ6/U & 7 shut down. Especially when the likely target market for those channels either can't afford SKY, or decline to subscribe to SKY on principle.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5442 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Croft,

    Part of the problem is the way media has been distributed in New Zealand (as opposed to, say, the U.S.). For example, in NZ, Sky acts for the most part as content creator and distributor. If you want ESPN there's no other distributor to provide that. Whereas, in the U.S. your local cable company (Comcast, Time Warner, etc) also competes with AT&T's U-Verse as well as Dish TV and DirectTV. They all offer the same channels, for the most part. It's by no means a good system (and each is loathed in its own way) but I wonder if Sky might start, one day, distributing Lightbox Sports or whatever and become a distributor in addition to a content provider (Sky Sports 1, etc). They already distribute Heartland which is made by TVNZ and Julie Christie, I believe, also owned two channels they also distributed? Vodafone on-sell Sky and there's no reason (other than it being a rival Telco that owns Lightbox) that they don't also, one day, sell a bundle with Lightbox as well as Netflix and Sky?

    Tuscaloosa • Since May 2008 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    The US also has "must carry" rules which means that cable and satellite companies must carry local broadcast TV stations - the trade off is that they don't have to pay for the broadcast TV they use. Here, with so few broadcast channels, we could require NZ on Air content to be carried .....

    But you know internet TV kind of changes all that - no reason why I can't get TVNZ from TVNZ, TV3 from TV3, Discovery from whoever wants to offer it the cheapest, particular series from a film library like NetFlix. Rugby from the NZRFU, If I want the Shopping channel maybe they pay me.

    This whole bundling thing is another bit of history we no longer really have a need of - the wire coming into my house can feed me video from anyone, not just what the cable company, or the phone company, or the sattelite company wants to put on it - I'm no longer tied to a single physical provider - there's no real need for these distributers like LightBox - middle men trying to take an extra cut of the pie - Netflix started off as a video library we'll probably still need those - but the idea that all TV should be sold through a 3rd party seems like simple rent taking.

    In fact a lot of what we think of as a TV channel exists because of the way our wires have worked in the past there's no reason why they have to be a linear thing we subscribe to - a digital sports 'channel' will likely just be something a web site with streaming video and a video library

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think they also know there's a distinct chance that they will lose if this gets to court. The Copyright Act seems reasonably clear on access vs copying, which is why we have parallel importing and region-free DVD players.

    You may be right (and I hope so), but longer term I think I may wait until we see how the TPPA turns out before putting too much trust in the future of the likes of the Copyright Act.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report Reply

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