Sports on TV

July 5th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reported yesterday:

Sport broadcasting in New Zealand continues to fracture with MotoGP shifting to free-to-air television.

The New Zealand broadcast rights for the rest of the 2013 MotoGP motorcycle racing season have been secured by Sommet Sports TV.

The new Freeview outfit, whose channel is provisionally up and running but set to launch officially in 10 days, will offer live coverage of the 2013 MotoGP series and highlights programmes.

The development confirms a second sporting asset has been wrested from Sky Television, 16 days after the subscription giant dramatically lost the New Zealand broadcast rights for the English Premier League football to previously unknown group Coliseum Sports Media.

Also Telecom announced yesterday:


• Telecom the official Telecommunications & ICT Partner for
• All 50GB broadband plans upgraded to 80GB at no extra cost – means fans can view more content, including BEPL

Football fans who are customers of the country’s biggest broadband provider Telecom New Zealand will be offered some of the most affordable access rates to the Barclays (English) Premier League (BEPL) via its nationwide broadband network and 

Telecom is offering existing broadband customers a 15 per cent discount1 on the ‘Season Pass’, and they can also go in to a draw to win one of 1,000 free ‘Season’ passes. 

New Telecom broadband2 customers signing up for the mid-range plans on a 12 month contract can choose a free ‘Season Pass’ with access to all 380 live games available from

It’s great to see both greater competition in securing “broadcast” rights, but also the business model changing more towards online access so you can watch them at your convenience – not just when a broadcaster decides to show them.

A few people have been demanding that the Government must step in and regulate Sky Television, because they have been so successful at securing good content. I think the  announcements of the last fortnight show how misguided those calls were – in fact they seem like tall poppy syndrome. Regulation should be a last resort – not a first resort.

I’m a very happy Sky customer, but I’m delighted other providers are winning some rights against them. Competition makes companies stronger – and benefits the consumer.

By coincidence I’m co-facilitating a session next Wednesday at Nethui which will be discussing where video on demand is going, and what the future may look like in a few years. I think it is a hugely exciting area. We’ll have most of the broadcasters there, plus other providers like Quickflix. Will hopefully be a great discussion.

Net Hui South

November 24th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m in Dunedin attending Nethui South. Jordan Carter has a good blog about it:

So I am in Dunedin at the university for NetHuiSouth — a conference that is part of InternetNZ’s effort to bring multi-stakeholder Internet governance out to the provinces.

There’s a strong focus on rural and provincial issues, as well as the traditional issues concerning the global governance of the Internet. The looming WCIT summit, where the International Telecommunications Union (set up two centuries ago) will try and get its grubby little hands on the Internet, will be a key issue of concern. I am also expecting reports back from the global Internet Governance Forum, held in Baku last month.

It’s so everyday that for most of us it is easy to forget just how revolutionary the Internet is. A private sector, collaborative, open infrastructure lets people innovate without permission. It lets anyone publish their views, discover any fact, share their joys or sorrow, make money or spend it, and connect with whoever they want.

Keeping it that way is important. Some states want to shut down this field of freedom. They are wrong, but they will make the attempt now and again in future. Keeping the ‘net open is the vital response all of us can take – and we can help do it at events like NetHui.

I think the biggest boon of the Internet has been sharing of knowledge. 20 years ago you had to go out of your way to access information. You had to buy it, or go to a Library, or have it sent to you etc. Now a huge portion of the world’s knowledge is online and open to everyone.

In line with that, good to see this announcement:

Information Technology Minister Amy Adams says New Zealand will try to block an international move by some governments to take over the running of the internet.

Mrs Adams made the announcement at the first regional internet community conference, NetHui South, in Dunedin on Friday.

Some 193 countries will meet in Dubai in December this year to discuss a move to extend global treat the International Telecommunications Regulations to also cover the internet, giving national governments much more control.

Mrs Adams says New Zealand will vote against the move, because the not-for-profit agencies including ICANN, which organise the worldwide web, are doing a good job.

Having the ITU gain authority over aspects of the Internet would be horrific. Great to see NZ arguing against.


NetHui South

October 26th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

If you live in the South Island and are annoyed all the good conferences are in the North Island, well NetHui is having a NetHui South conference in Dunedin on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th November.

It’s only $40 registration, and ICT Minister Amy Adams is a keynote speaker. Sessions scheduled so far include:

  • Usable Security
  • Dunedin Digital Strategy
  •  Creative Commons
  • Rights-based approach to the Internet
  • Digital inclusion
  • Copyright & the Internet
  • Regulating bad behaviour online
  • Cybersecurity: at a tipping point?
  • Internet Governance
  • Vision 2020 with Clare Curran and Gareth Hughes
  • Internet-enabled opportunities for New Zealand
  •  Is the notice and consent privacy model dead?

I’m on one of the panels and involved with a couple of the workshops. Hope to see some mainlanders there.


July 20th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I was in the UK for a friend’s wedding during the inaugural Nethui in 2011, so the 2012 Nethui was the first one for me.

There were over 500 people in attendance, and I was really pleased that it was a preetty diverse group of people. It wasn’t just the usual suspects of the Internet techos and the policy wonks. There were teachers there interested in the Internet as an education tool. Farmers were there, librarians were there, game developers were there. Oh yeah, lawyers also 🙂

Organizing a conference with over 60 sessions (plus a bar camp at the end) is a massive achievement, and kudos to especially Richard Wood, plus also all the INZ staff, for delivering a high quality event. InternetNZ subsidise it by a six figure sum so that registration for it is only $40.

Should also mention the Showgizmo smartphone app. I found it pretty useful. It had the schedule for the conference in it, so very easy to check what was on. You could select which sessions you wanted to attend, and it would show you just those, and/or give you calendar reminders for them. It also had the names and twitter feeds for all 500 delegates. Plus as a bonus if you scanned in someone’s ID tag on your smartphone, then it would add them to your favourites. Could do with some tweaking to interface with programmes like Outlook more, but overall a pretty good app for event organisers and attendees to use.

I was involved in a few sessions. I chaired a session on copyright and the Internet which had around 300 people attend. The video will be on the website for those are interested. Some good discussion, and the best point made was by chance the last. One of the lawyers there (Rochelle) said that a lot of problems would be solved if copyright law changed from focusing on copying to use. I thought that was a great idea. The Internet is a giant copying machine, as is each individual PC. Having laws against copying is like having laws against eating.

But what you can do is have laws on use of copyrighted material. If for example you copy a movie you purchase, just so you have it on a backup machine – then that is fine. But if you copy it and give it to someone – that is an infringement. And if you copy it and sell the copy to someone – that is a criminal offence. Focus on use, not copying.

There was also a good session on harmful speech on the Internet and the Law Commission’s proposals for a Communications Tribunal to deal with some of it, chaired excellently by Judge Harvey.  I retain some reservations about what may be proposed, but am waiting to see the details.

On the margins of Nethui, we saw the launch of the Fair Deal campaign about the TPP. I am a strong supporter of genuinely free trade agreements and also a strong supporter of the Fair Deal campaign. The campaign is calling on the NZ Government to maintain its current negotiating position of rejecting the elements of the US proposed intellectual property chapter, where they would require a change to our current IP laws or policies. I’ll blog more on the campaign as it goes. Feel free to check out the campaign website, and NBR has a story on the launch also.

I also took part in a panel on Open Government. Sadly there was little time for questions as there were two opening speakers and then seven panelists. My major point was that we should now look at amending the OIA to require pro-active release of certain Government information (such as Cabinet papers) after a certain period of time (say six months). This is not intended to change the criteria for release, but to recognise that people do not know what they don’t know, and hence what to ask for. An automatic pro-active release would open up Government considerably. I may draft a members’ bill to this end when I get the time and see if a backbench MP wants to submit it. I also see this as good for Government too, as knowing that all papers will automatically be released will ensure due care is taken in their drafting and approval.

Overall I thought it was a fabulous event, mainly due to the quality of the people there and their willingness to engage. Sarah Putt from Computerworld did not have a good initial impression, but Lance Wiggs’ response is one I endorse.

Talking of one of the keynote speakers, Pamela Jones Harbour, I would make this point. No she was not a Lawrence Lessig, but what she did do was not just deliver a keynote address, but actually stayed for the whole conference and participated in many of the sessions. Personally I thought it pretty cool that a former US Federal Trade Commissioner stayed on and participated the way she did. Also notable was that Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff didn’t just turn up for one session, but was there for at least two days, and engaging in multiple sessions. Nethui isn’t like other conference where it is all about the keynote speakers (even though I agree they are important), but it is about the engagement.

UPDATE: Almost forgot the highlight. As part of the digital divide panel, we heard from Emma whose family had benefited from the computers in homes programmes. Emma told us her life story including losing her kids for a while, drugs, crime but how computers in homes had made such a big difference to her and her kids, and how well her family are doing now. She was on the verge of tears speaking about her mistakes (and speaking to 500 strangers is daunting for most people), and most of the audience were emotionally captivated. She got the sole standing ovation of Nethui, and made things very real.

The Dotcom case

July 19th, 2012 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

I was going to do a lengthy blog explaining the context of the comments by Judge Harvey which led to him recusing himself from the Dotcom extradition hearing – but Russell Brown has done it for me. The key part:

Tweeting the proceedings is actively encouraged at NetHui, and I relayed Judge Harvey’s lucid observation that:

The problem is not technology, the problem is behaviour. We have met the enemy and he is us. #nethui

At least twice, Judge Harvey smiled and firmly declined to comment when Kim Dotcom’s extradition case, which he was hearing, came up. I complimented him afterwards on the job he’d done. …

It wasn’t quite the end of the day for me. I’d agreed to stand in for Nat Torkington chairing a 6.30pm session announcing the launch of Fair Deal, a public awareness campaign about the potential threat to New Zealand consumer rights posed by the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement negotiations currently being undertaken by New Zealand, the US and several other countries.

Deep unease with the US stance on intellectual property chapter of the agreement is the default view in New Zealand. It threatens to drag us back into issues such as rights to temporary copies (ie: the right to use the actual internet), which have been settled for years in our soevereign copyright law.

My panel – Internet NZ policy lead Susan Chalmers, Neil Jarvis of the Royal Foundation of the Blind, Catalyst IT director Don Christie and Trade Me operations manager Michael O’Connell – discussed their objections. Don noted that the New Zealand officials negotiating on our behalf have thus far taken a pretty solid line.

David Farrar commented from the floor on government attitudes (also fairly sound but the temptation will always be there to compromise on edge issues just to get an agreement signed). And Judge Harvey was there too. He spoke about the US position on something else that has long been settled in our law – the right to own and operate a device a region-free DVD player. I’ll assume Hamish Fletcher’s transcript in his Herald story is roughly accurate:

Under TPP and the American Digital Millennium copyright provisions you will not be able to do that, that will be prohibited… if you do you will be a criminal – that’s what will happen. Even before the 2008 amendments it wasn’t criminalised. There are all sorts of ways this whole thing is being ramped up and if I could use Russell [Brown’s] tweet from earlier on: we have met the enemy and he is [the] U.S.

Fletcher’s story didn’t appear until the following Monday, five days later, – but when it did, it appeared in the lead position on the Herald’s home page, under the headline US ‘the enemy’ says Dotcom judge.

Inevitably, the story was picked up from there by internet news services as Megaupload Judge Calls U.S. “The Enemy”. In making a play on his own words, Judge Harvey had created a perception of bias that has eventually led to him opting to stand aside from the Kim Dotcom case. He has done the right thing. But it bears reiterating that he was not discussing the Kim Dotcom case at the time.

So the comment was a play on his own quote from earlier in the day, and as Russell says was not at all discussing the Dotcom case.

I think it is a pity, for all sides, at the outcome. As Russell outlined Judge Harvey is an expert on both copyright law (he chaired the copyright tribunal) and Internet law. I’m not suggesting the outcome of the extradition hearing will be different with a different Judge, but that public acceptance of the decision would have been very high with Judge Harvey – especially if it was that the requirements for extradition had been met.

Nathan Torkington has blogged on this also, as has Chris Keall at NBR.


June 16th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A final reminder about the NetHui 2011 from 29 June to 1 July.

The programme is here. I’m gutted I will be missing it as I will be overseas.

Three Ministers are participating – Deputy PM Bill English, ICT Minister Steven Joyce and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson. Also MPs David Cunliffe, Clare Curran and Gareth Hughes are on panel discussions.

Lawrence Lessig is the key speaker on the third day, which is MC’d by Sean Plunket. The panels are on digitial citizenship, the Internet and the law, Open Government and Access & Diversity.

The first two days have four work-stream running through them, with a huge diversity of sessions and topics.


April 13th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

New Zealand’s first Net Hui is in Auckland from Wed 29 June to Fri 1 July 2011. I’m somewhat gutted that I can’t attend it, as I will be in Englnad for a wedding.

Professor Lawrence Lessig has just been announced as a keynote speaker – it is worth attending just to hear him. But there is so much more than that. The streams are:

  • Access and Diversity
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Governance & Legal
  • Government and Openness
  • Innovation and Emerging Issues
  • Education

The draft programme is here, and you can register here. The cost is only an insanely low $30.