I don’t think SKY should be regulated because of the enormous alternative sources of TV available to anyone with broadband and a torrent client.
I’m also not a fan of direct regulation like making SKY offer individual channel selection so people don’t have do buy a basic package if they only want to watch the rugby.
But all monopolies eventually attract the attention of regulators. When the National government eventually exits, SKY regulation is definitely on the cards.
When regulators see a big monopoly, they act almost out of a compulsion to justify their existence.
One of the concerns about massive media companies is the difficulty of funding public broadcasting because a lot of great content has lower commercial value and small audiences.
The truth is a lot of public broadcasting is rubbish, but the diamonds in the rough are worth the trouble of maintaining public funding of music, television and radio.
When the SKY regulation negotiations begin, offer them the opportunity to underwrite part of NZ On Air in exchange for less aggressive regulation.
That way two birds are killed with one stone. According to the NZ On Air Annual Report their funding expenditure in 2011 was $130 million.
SKY obviously can’t underwrite all of that, that would be ridiculous. But for each commitment to more public broadcasting funding, they can get less regulation.
The current “hands off” policy taken by the National government ignores the opportunity for a quick win. Even SKY subscribers don’t like SKY and moan about the lack of quality content and how everything good is on SOHO all the time.
I’m not going to talk about how SKY needs to earn a return for the network it has built. It clearly is recovering the cost of building a network. This isn’t about SKY making money, it’s about shifting a chunk of government expenditure to an industry that consistently lowers the quality of broadcasting content.