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Let the Sky Fall… TV giant bans Slingshot adverts

05 Aug 14

Sky TV has banned Slingshot’s Global Mode related advertisements, a move which the Internet Service Provider brands “unjustified and petty.”

Imposing the ban late on Friday, the declined ads feature Slingshot’s Global Mode service, designed to “make it easy” for users to access Netflix, Hulu and other streaming video services.

Speaking after the decision, Slingshot GM Taryn Hamilton says the move “smacks of perfectionism and censorship.”

“It’s a sad day when our TV stations start to ban ads because they feel threatened by one of their advertisers and the products they are offering,” he says.

“In this case SKY is using its position to obstruct Slingshot because they feel intimidated by Global Mode.”

Revealed early last month, Slingshot’s decision to unshackle many of the world’s leading video websites under the free service of Global Mode has been met with resistance at Sky TV - who claims the ISP “has no formal association with Netflix but is marketing ‘access to Netflix’ through its Global Mode service.”

“We are in the business of paying the people who create TV, film and other content for the rights to broadcast their work in NZ, and are against any form of piracy that undermines intellectual property rights,” a Sky spokesperson told Techday via an emailed statement.

“We invest a lot in delivering great content to New Zealanders.

“Kiwis have a strong sense of fairness, and most prefer to access TV shows and movies legitimately and support the businesses that contribute to their communities and NZ as a whole.

“We are only declining Slingshot ads that feature ‘Global Mode’ given the recent strong connections made with illegitimately accessing Netflix.”

According to Hamilton however, Global Mode “only exists because Kiwis want access to quality streaming video at a good price.”

“When and if local companies manage to finally crack that, then there will be no need for the service,” he adds.

“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.”

With industry commentary claiming the move centres around Sky not wanting competition, the TV giant says such claims are “not true”, insisting the company “welcomes fair competition.”

But in this case Sky, which at present has around 5-10% of content available on Netflix, says it comes down to access to a US company that “owns no content rights in New Zealand.”

“We are always careful about not undermining intellectual property rights and we don’t carry ads if we think there is any risk that they may breach local laws, whether that’s the Fair Trading Act or the Copyright Act or any other applicable law,” the spokesperson adds.

“This applies to all of our advertising clients, no matter who they are.”

In New Zealand, Sky says Kiwis are “well served” by entertainment content across television channels (FTA, pay TV), SKY GO, free on demand services, Quickflix and Lightbox, but when it comes to Global Mode, it isn’t yet sure of the products legitimacy hence the company’s decision to block the adverts.

Claiming to have “no problem with Slingshot’s products generally”, Sky says it has previously held up advertising in the past, citing an offshore company that wanted to run adverts for text-based competitions on Sky’s platform.

“At the time, we had questions about whether those ads complied with the Fair Trading Act, so we refused to carry them until those issues were resolved,” adds Sky, who also advised Slingshot to "recut the proposed ad to remove references to ‘Global Mode’ if they wish to advertise.”

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