Tuanz backs Slingshot in ad row

UPDATE / Aug 8: The Telecommunications Users Assocation is backing Slinghot in the ISP's ad row with Sky TV, TVNZ and Mediaworks.

"Tuanz supports Slingshot in bringing competition and choice to its customers, our understanding is that 'Global Mode' is legal under the copyright act and is simply a form of digital parallel importing," acting CEO Chris O'Connell tells NBR ONLINE.

"We are disappointed to see broadcasters using their position to try and limit consumers right to know about legitimate choices for accessing content. New Zealanders are global digital consumer and should be able to access and purchase content.

"The same applies to NZ content that is geoblocked, when our missing million really is the Kiwi diaspora, surely we need to be a beacon of openess and freedom."

TVNZ has decided to a run revised version of Slingshot's ad, while MediaWorks has staunchly refused (see below).

Sky TV said it no longer wanted to talk to the media about the controversy, only its client, Slingshot. However, a rep for Slingshot tells NBR the pay TV broadcaster has refused to run the edited version. 

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'Censored' Slingshot ad undermines our position — MediaWorks

Aug 7: TV3 and Four broadcaster MediaWorks is refusing to run an edited version of Slingshot's new ad.

Monday, Sky TV, TVNZ and MediaWorks all banned a Slingshot ad that references the ISP's "Global Mode" – a feature that makes it easy to access low-cost, US-based streaming TV and movie services like Netflix usually blocked to New Zealanders.

All three said they were happy to run a version of the ad that edited out the Global Mode mention.

Slingshot duly re-submitted the ad, but not with a simple edit but rather a cheeky "Censored" black bar where Global Mode was mentioned in the original. 

It does seem a little like an attempt to provoke a fresh reaction, and at least one broadcaster has taken the bait.

GM Taryn Hamilton told NBR last night that TVNZ was happy to run the new ad. Sky TV was still deciding. MediaWorks had refused.

MediaWorks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer tells NBR, "The more accurate description is that we have declined to run these particular ads – ‘refusing’ suggests we have some obligation to run all advertising that’s presented to us, which obviously isn’t the case for any broadcaster or media outlet.

"Our position, based on legal advice, is that users of Global Mode are breaching copyright, and the original ads were misleading to our viewers as they presented Global Mode as a legitimate and legal option.

"The intention of the new ‘censored’ ads seems to be to undermine MediaWorks’ position, and hence to continue to mislead viewers about the legitimacy of Global Mode – so as a responsible broadcaster, we have declined to run them."

Sky TV declined comment. Corporate comms head Kirsty Way says, "We’ll be working directly with our clients on this, not providing ongoing updates to media."

Slingshot took legal advice from Lowndes Jordan principal Rick Shera before it launched Global Mode, and before it made it open to all customers. Mr Shera likens accessing Netflix from NZ to parallel importing and says Global Mode is in accordance with the Fair Trading Act, Copyright Act and other laws. Chapman Tripp partner Justin Graham leans in the same direction.

Malcolm Dick, chairman and largest shareholder in Slingshot owner CallPlus, says the traditional broadcasters are trying to protect outdated business models, and are making New Zealanders pay more in the process.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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