Analysis: Sky TV's William Shatner moment

Sky TV is having a William Shatner moment.

You're probably  thinking I'm making some kind of a metaphor after yesterday's colourful events.

News Corp selling its 44% stake in Sky TV at a discount $815 million lead to speculation Foxtel could buy in, igloo partner TVNZ buy back in, or a UFB contender like Telecom and/or Vodafone take a stake.

All of this as the Commerce Commission circles with an investigation into Sky TV's content deals, and whether they prevent rivals from gaining a critical mass of content, and renewed discussion of online content threats.

Investors will naturally be worried about whether News Corp bailed because the market is mature and saturated. Are Sky TV's glory days behind it, and its future filled with scary new technology challenges?

Up close, it's not quite so racy. It defies logic that News Corp would sell out of Sky TV, then buy back in at a premium through Foxtel (of which it owns 50%).

I can't see TVNZ and other local contenders rustling up close to a billion dollars [UPDATE: News' shares were dispersed among a series of institutional investors].

The Commerce Commission is looping around and around with its endless probe, which is in point of fact more of an investigation into whether to have an investigation.

The amount of illegal movie and TV downloads is falling, thanks to the file sharing law and the perceived threat of fines of up to $15,000.

Quickflix is is stumbling, and Sky TV is poised to fill the gap by adding iSky capability to its decoder (a move that, more than igloo, gives it a shot at attracting the iTunes generation and other pay TV holdouts).

And there is no political will, whatsoever, to push  through anti-siphoning laws that would break Sky TV's near-monopoly on key sports events. The threat is likely to recede even further if local investors are among those who fill the vacuum left by Murdoch.

So, no, no beam-me-up metaphors here.

What I'm talking about is an actual William Shatner moment. 

Sky TV is bringing the Star Trek star to Auckland later this month.

I'm thinking the event must be the launch of the sci fi channel that unemployed Wellington man Pat Pilcher has pushed so hard for (and, earlier, Sky TV CEO John Fellet told NBR ONLINE a sci fi channel was number two on his list, after Soho).

One complication: while not everyone goes online to download TV programmes (illegally or legally), it's fair to say sci fi fans are at the vanguard of experimenting with new media.

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