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UPDATED: TVNZ launches pay TV channel, via Sky

Friday 5th March 2010

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State-owned television broadcaster Television New Zealand is launching into pay television, starting its own UKTV-style channel playing only archived New Zealand television shows.

TVNZ believes the channel can be profitable, as long as it uses the Sky digital pay TV platform, and is currently negotiating pay-TV rights with the producers of programmes earmarked for revival on the "Heartland" channel.

The programme will not be available on Freeview, where TVNZ's last two channels - TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 - were launched as package-builders, before being added to the Sky schedule once Freeview was well-established as a free-to-air alternative platform to Sky.

TVNZ already holds free-to-air rights for the shows that Heartland will show, but must negotiate rights for pay TV. The Heartland channel will screen exclusively on Sky, although some programmes could also be replayed free-to-air by TVNZ channels, spokeswoman Megan Richards said.

"We believe we can make it commercially viable", said Richards, likening the format to the "best of British" niche appeal of Sky's UKTV channel.

Sky TV ceo John Fellet described "this vault of content, which includes some of New Zealand's most beloved shows, is the biggest untapped resource since the Maui oil fields," although he said on morning breakfast television that, in the crowded digital TV market, an audience share of even 1% was valuable and capable of development.

Businesswire.co.nz



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