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Kiwi pubcaster sells stakes

Murdock buys 'Sky,' BT buys 'Clear'

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Pubcaster TVNZ has sold its 12.6% shareholding in paybox Sky and has its 25% stake in telco Clear Communications.

British Telecom bought the latter for an undisclosed sum, and Rupert Murdoch’s Kiwi INL Group mopped up the 46 million Sky shares for an estimated $66 million.

INL previously held a 41% stake in the rapidly growing Sky Television, which now has 330,000 subscribers.

Federal funds

Following sale of its two assets, TVNZ volunteered to give its shareholder, the government, an estimated $38 million special dividend and is retaining the rest. Payment, coming as the local indie sector sees declining levels of local content, has incensed the Screen Producers and Directors Assn.

President Jonathan Dowling said there seemed to be an ongoing financial crisis within TVNZ when it came to spending money on local production. But he added that there appeared to be nothing wrong with handing over a large sum to the government at a time when the public wanted more local content.

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