Quickflix v Sky TV continues

22:03, May 09 2012

Online television provider Quickflix has continued sparring with Sky Television ahead of a long-awaited report from the Commerce Commission on ultrafast broadband.

At issue is whether Sky's dominant position in the pay-television market could impede demand for ultrafast broadband (UFB).

In a submission to the commission, Quickflix said a claim by Sky that the online availability of television and movies could be anything other than a major driver of UFB uptake was ''illogical and highly unlikely''.

For $9.99 a month, Quickflix lets subscribers view hundreds of programmes and movies on computers and Sony Bravia internet-connected televisions and on other televisions connected to the internet through Blu-ray players and PlayStation3s.

Its decision to launch in New Zealand last month did not mean Sky's ''exclusive content rights'' had not harmed its service, it said.

The Australian company was responding to a submission in which Sky told the commission to stick to telecommunications and said the regulator had put too much emphasis on the importance of online television as a contributor to UFB demand.

Sky had claimed a commission finding that consumers were most interested in the ability of UFB to support high-definition video had resulted from a poorly-worded question being put to a non-representative sample of consumers in a survey.

Quickflix said exclusive agreements Sky had in place with programme owners had prevented Quickflix from offering some programmes in New Zealand that it was able to offer viewers in Australia.

Some internet providers could not unmeter Quickflix so viewing did not eat into customers' data caps without other contractual provisions kicking in that ''would be in favour of Sky'', it said.

''Quickflix is firmly of the view that existing exclusive content rights are problematic for new and prospective entrants into the market. Those currently held by Sky have harmed the Quickflix service.''

Quickflix may not have got the last word. The commission is due to publish its draft report on May 25 and said it was still accepting ''feedback''.

A new internet provider, FYX, launched on Tuesday, offering a ''Global Mode'' that could allow customers to access overseas online televisions services such as Netflix, that are not offered in New Zealand because of television and movie studio licensing restrictions.