Government letting TV viewers get screwed

Chris Barton nails the issue perfectly in the Herald on the ridicolous situation of consumers being forced to buy multiple devices just to view all the free to air channels.

There are simple things the Government could do right now to dramatically improve the lot of broadcast consumers. “Must carry” rules could stop the nonsense that’s going on between Sky and TVNZ and give both consumers and the Government immediate benefit. If Sky was required to carry Freeview TV6, the soon-to-be launched TV7 and Sports Extra (a simple channel tuning exercise on the Sky box) and Freeview was required to carry Sky’s Prime channel, consumers would get a much fairer deal.

Hear hear.

How else to explain the ridiculous situation many consumers face right now – that if they want to get all the free-to-air digital channels in New Zealand, they have to buy two set top boxes when one would do?

The Government needs to intervene also in setting open access standards for set top boxes to stop further anti-competitive tactics through the use of incompatible electronic programme guides and other lock-out mechanisms. Even Freeview is guilty of this anti-diversity behaviour.

Some of its accredited set top boxes – the Zinwell and re-badged Dick Smith box – are locked down to prevent customers tuning in other free-to-air satellite channels as they become available. It shouldn’t be allowed. Or, at the very least, prospective buyers should be told: “This box will not allow you to pick up other freely available satellite channels in New Zealand.”

Yes I bet that isn’t in the marketing campaign.  If a channel is free to air, one should be able to tune your device to receive it.

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