The New Pig in Town (plus enter to win)

Regan from Throng has looked at (P)Igloo, the new joint venture from Sky TV and TVNZ and he has found that despite the marketing schlock the facts don’t match the reality.

He is also running a nice little competition for a Samsung Freeview PVR:

On Monday, Sky and TVNZ launched their hardly anticipated new subscription television service.

Here’s our list of reasons why it shouldn’t be under your tree this Christmas or anywhere else in your house for that matter.

 10. It’s probably still broken.  

The custom built platform was supposed to be launched months ago but has been delayed due to “technical problems”.  Is the launch simply exploitation of the spending season or a Christmas miracle?

9. TVNZ are involved.

Remember when TVNZ said “TiVo transforms television“? How are all those customers feeling today?  How long before Igloo too melts down?

8. A comparable Freeview box is less than half the price.

There are a number of basic models of DVB-T receivers which also have the ability to record to a connected USB storage device.

7. Sport is ultra-expensive.

The base “30 day channel pack” plus purchasing every Super XV match The Chiefs play during that period would cost you up to $99.74. On Sky this would cost $72.46 and include more channels, every Super XV game and a lot more sports besides.

6. Paying for content that used to be free.

Two of the eleven Igloo channels feature content that TVNZ used to broadcast for free:  Kidzone24 and TVNZ Heartland.

5. All Igloo content is Standard Definition.

The only content that you’ll be able to view in High Definition is from any of the free-to-air channels that broadcast in HD.  All of the extra content you’re paying for is delivered in standard definition.  This includes movies and sport.

4. High per channel price.

The “Sky Basic” package costs approximately $1.36 per premium channel compared with $2.27 per premium channel on Igloo.

3. Igloo is not a middle option.

Currently, a new 12 month “Sky Basic” package (~63 channels) with 3 months free sport and SoHo and free installation costs $553.44.
A new Igloo box (~34 channels) which you install yourself and a 12 month subscription costs $478.05
A new Freeview box (~29 channels) which you install yourself costs from $99.

2. Two thirds of the channels you can already watch for free.

That’s right.  They’re already free.  And also the most watched.

1. You’re not an Eskimo.

They’re the only ones who should have an igloo.

Those are our top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t get igloo and now we want yours.  We’ve got a brand new Samsung MyFreeview HD digital TV recorder (BDE-8500) worth $649 to give away.

In addition, if anyone reposts this on their own blog, we’ll include any comments made there in the draw. Have at it.

Dita comes good

Dita De Boni can usually be relied upon for some liberal elite waffle or inane fluff in the Herald, but today she comes good talking about TVNZ:

So, TVNZ is a reasonably profitable operation, and returns a bit of dosh to the Government. The disaster that was TiVO and its champion Rick Ellis are gone. Plenty of money-conscious journeymen people its management ranks.

It’s a different organisation altogether from the days I was working there, when big spending, risky hiring and a kind of Sodom and Gomorrah attitude pervaded the place. From the austere strictures of theHerald newsroom, where a coffee charged to the company would have you explaining yourself to the finance department in perpetuity, to TVNZ, where you got handed a company credit card with your welcome pack – way-hay!

But as TVNZ has become more corporatised, the case for government owning this resource has become even thinner. There is nothing “public service” about it, particularly. It turns a profit, but not one that makes a huge difference to the public coffers. It runs local content, but only in primetime if is guaranteed to get an audience (and drive advertising revenue).

It is unshackled from the demands of the waffly Charter. And perhaps, most importantly, the underlying fundamentals of the business are good, which means it might attract a buyer.

Sack Him

Rick "Oinko" Ellis

Rick "Oinko" Ellis - Trougher extraordinaire

Jonathan Marshal has once again skewered a troughing greedy little piggy, this time it is Rick Ellis the CEO of TVNZ.

TVNZ boss Rick Ellis has racked up more than $140,000 on his company plastic – including $32,000 entertaining – during a time of major redundancies at the broadcaster, a Sunday Star-Times survey of more than 100 public-sector chief executives has revealed.

Last night broadcasting minister Jonathan Coleman said he expected “restraint” from the broadcaster and would be asking for details from its chairman, Sir John Anderson.

“I’m sure all of the figures would be made available to me on Monday,” Coleman said.

Well if Jonathan Coleman can get the figures that will be interesting because….

…assessing just how Ellis spent $140,000 of TVNZ’s money was difficult. Citing commercial sensitivity, the broadcaster refused to hand over anything more than a grand total, broken down into broad categories. This included $11,765.52 on “miscellaneous” items. The broadcaster last night refused to say what they were. The ombudsman is investigating.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said TVNZ would release only limited details of Ellis’s expenditure because “we are a commercial operation in a highly competitive, not to say cut-throat global industry. The kind of detail government departments may care to release is damaging to our competitive position.”

What a load of bollocks. This sort of obfuscation with public monies is untenable. Rick Ellis should be made to cough the details immediately as required by law. I seriously doubt a look at his credit card receipts would imperil any commercial relationship with anyone. By refusing to hand out the details it simply makes one wonder just exactly what he is hiding.

Richards said it was unfair for TVNZ to release its data when bosses of private companies Fairfax, APN, MediaWorks and Sky were not forced to.

But Maori TV CEO Jim Mather, also a state-owned enterprise boss, happily provided his credit card statements and receipts. Mather spent $19,632.53 in the same 24-month period.

Unfair…I’ll tell you what is unfair, being a taxpayer and coughing for Rick Ellis’ prodigious salary and then coughing again for $140k in expenses. It seems that yet again we have a person in the pay of the taxpayer/ratepayer who seems to think that it is a whole boat-load of fun to have us cover his every little expense. I’m glad to see too that Maori TV is a) circumspect with expenses, and b) honest and open as required by law.

If TVNZ thinks it is unfair to receive public monies and not account for it then how about we ratchet up the unfairness by selling the whole sorry-assed lot off to the highest bidder.

Rick Ellis was hired because Labour didn’t want the old plodder Ian Fraser and Rick Ellis was going to apply his technological genius to TVNZ. If that genius in business is that of another Rick Ellis who systematically rooted over Wang and EDS and has tanked revenues at TVNZ along with deploying set-top technology that no-one wants then I guess he is Labour’s man. Poor old Ian Fraser and Bill ralston were pilloried for much less, if consistency were to hold true then I would expect Labour’s broadcasting spokes-person to be calling for the hanging of Rick Ellis. Change would be a fine thing.