Chorus must explain - lobby group

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 13:01 16/09/2013

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A group trying to force the Government to scrap its proposals for broadband pricing has requested that the NZX ask Chorus to clarify "conflicting statements" between its chief executive and Prime Minister John Key.

Last week Key said if the Commerce Commission's proposals for what Chorus could charge for access to the old copper-based broadband network were implemented, there was a chance Chorus "will go broke".

On Saturday in an interview with TV3's The Nation, Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said there were "some really challenging scenarios" if the commission's recommendation was accepted, but he would not comment on the worst-case scenarios.

Ratcliffe said Chorus' viability had not been discussed with Key, but the prime minister must have done some analysis in coming to his conclusion.

Today, Chorus said it did not believe it had an issue.

''We are very aware of our continuous disclosure obligations and we are comfortable that we are complying with them,'' a spokesperson said by email.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing, said NZX had been asked to look into the situation.

"We are concerned there may be information circulating in Wellington about the financial viability of Chorus Ltd under the Commerce Commission's draft determination for the price of copper broadband that is not available to its shareholders or to the broader market," Chetwin, said.

Last week Key's office would not elaborate on his comments, other than that he stood by them.

Chetwin said shareholders and the broader market needed the information on which Key and Ratcliffe were basing their comments to be made publicly available for independent analysis.

"The NZX is the appropriate authority to seek this information in the first instance," she said.

The Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing launched the Axe the Copper Tax campaign, claiming Communications Minister Amy Adams' proposals for broadband were a $600 million tax on New Zealand broadband users.

It also called the process, in sidelining the regulator in favour of the Cabinet, "dangerous".

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- Fairfax Media

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