Kiwi pubcaster sells stakes; gov’t to see $38 mil payday

Spada wants funds funneled towards local content

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Pubcaster TVNZ has sold its 12.6% shareholding in pay TV service Sky as well as its 25% stake in telco Clear Communications.

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

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. (Spada).

Spada president Jonathan Dowling said TVNZ seemed to be experiencing an ongoing financial crisis when it comes 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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