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Sky New Zealand bans ads for geo-block circumventing ISP package

By | Published on Tuesday 5 August 2014


Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sky TV New Zealand has refused to run ads for the previously reported ISP product in the country that helps users circumvent geographical blocks on websites like Amazon, Netflix and the BBC iPlayer.

As previously reported, New Zealand net firm Slingshot announced last month that it was rolling out a facility that would make it easier for users to access websites that are technically off limits in the country. Of course plenty of web-users use so called VPN software to do just that on their own, but Slingshot’s new ‘global mode’ opens up that option to less web savvy people.

There are various reasons why an online operator might wish to limit access to its site, or part of its site, to users in a specific region, including pricing variations around the world, though one of the most common motivations is copyright. Operators of music and video sites often only secure the rights to distribute content from labels and studios in specific territories.

Slingshot’s global mode will likely open up music services for New Zealand users not technically available in the country, including the streaming music element of Amazon Prime, which is only currently available in the US. Though the move by Slingshot will have a bigger impact on video-on-demand platforms, where country-by-county differences between catalogues are more pronounced, and where there are a lot more exclusivity deals around content licensing.

Hence Sky TV’s dislike of Slingshot’s new consumer offer, it likely enabling customers to access programmes online via US services that it has bought the exclusive rights to broadcast in New Zealand.

With that in mind, the broadcaster has refused to run ads for Slingshot that reference the new VPN-like functionality, with a spokeswoman telling Stuff that the media company believes that the net firm is ignoring copyright principles by offering global mode. The spokeswoman said: “We are a business that pays people who create television so we are against any form of piracy or the undermining of intellectual property rights”.

But the General Manger of Slingshot, Taryn Hamilton, has hit back, calling the ad ban
“unjustified and petty”, while adding that global mode is only desired by consumers because conventional TV networks often fail to provide international content “in a timely fashion at a fair price”.

The ISP rep went on: “When and if local companies manage to finally crack that, then there will be no need for the service. But, until that time, people will use services like global mode so that they can see decent TV without having to get a second mortgage”.