Editorial: Sky Sports Monopoly

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sky Television's withdrawal of their lower cost FANPASS is another example of poor corporate behaviour by an organisation enjoying a monopoly on major sporting events.  This action deserves inquiry by the Commerce Commission.

Sky had offered potential subscribers a way in which they could access British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand coverage without being obliged to sign up to the added expense of a year's subscription.  They have now withdrawn the offer.

This action recalls the equally exploitive and anti-competitive offer made by Sky Television when they first established in NZ in 1987, which was to screen programmes free of interruption by commercials.  This offer was withdrawn as soon as Sky had netted a sufficient number of subscribers to allow them to exploit their sports monopoly.

The FANPASS was obviously only made for as long as it took to increase their subscriber base, which has been gradually eroded by the introduction of relatively inexpensive Set-Top Boxes which allow viewers to remove commercials from their viewer experience, and the further choice offered by Freeview.

It is time Sky was brought to book by somebody with authority to apply sanctions, instead of obliging viewers to pay exorbitant subscription fees to view significant live sporting events.  This is essentially a licence to print money, and anti-competitive.

It is also time, in election year, that our politicians stopped their chin-dribbling subservience to Sky TV, and undertook to withdrew their monopoly on big sporting events.  These belong to the nation, not another Rupert Murdoch clone.