SKY Network Television

SKY Network Television

company_name = Sky Network Television Limited

company_type = Public - NZX Code: SKT
foundation = 1987
location = Auckland, New Zealand
key_people = John Fellet, CEO
Peter Macourt, Chairman
products = Sky Television
[ DVD Unlimited]
industry = Subscription Television
DVD Rental
homepage = []
revenue =
num_employees =

SKY Network Television Limited (asx|SKT; nzx|SKT), often trading as SKY, is a New Zealand pay television service. As of August 17 2007, SKY Television is in 44.5% of New Zealand homes, second only to analogue television.


Founded by Terry Jarvis, Craig Heatley, Trevor Farmer and Alan Gibbs in 1987 as Sky Media Limited.

Sky Media Limited originally formed to investigate the possibility of beaming sports programming into clubs and pubs using high performance 4 metre satellite dishes by Jarvis and an engineering associate Brian Green but was redirected into pay television following successful bidding in 1990 for four groups of UHF frequencies in the Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga regions.

The first Sky subscriber was former Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives Jonathan Hunt, according to Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Sky rapidly won long term rights from US sports network ESPN (which become a 1% shareholder) as well as CNN and HBO providing it with a supply of sports, news and movies for three channels: SKY Sport, SKY News (a mix of CNN International and BBC bulletins) and SKY Movies (later renamed HBO, before reverting back to its original name.)

Initially only operating in the Auckland region Sky contracted Broadcast Communications to provide the broadcast service and transmission from its Panorama Road studios formerly owned by defunct broadcaster Northern Television.

Later, as funding allowed Sky extended its coverage throughout most of New Zealand, in 1994, SKY launched two further channels, Discovery and Orange. The company expanded to Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Southland and Otago, follow by the Wairarapa, Taupo and Wanganui regions in 1995. Its final UHF expansion, in 1996, was to Taranaki, Whangarei and eastern Bay of Plenty.

In April 1997, SKY introduced a nationwide analogue direct broadcasting via satellite (DBS) service that would also give it the opportunity to offer its customers more channels and interactive options. It upgraded it to a digital service in December 1998.

The concept of a pay television service was new to New Zealand and Sky had early problems. These included viewer acceptance of subscriber television. It faced difficulty in educating retailers and customers on the use of the original decoders. However, this problem was eased with the introduction of easier-to-use decoders that allowed greater viewer flexibility.

Channels that are no longer carried by Sky TV include: CNBC (resumed as of 15 October 2007), Granada UKTV, Hallmark Channel, TVSN and Property TV. A SkyMail email service was also featured for a time, but was later pulled due to lack of interest, (including the wireless keyboards they had produced for it).

2006 SKY Digital outage

The direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) service went offline just before 7 p.m. NZST (8 a.m. London, 3 a.m. New York) on March 30, 2006. The interruption affected service to over 550,000 customers and caused many decoders to advise customers of "rain fade." Due to excessive volume of calls to the SKY toll-free helpdesk SKY posted update messages on their website advising customers that they were working with Optus to restore service by midnight.

SKY gave the cause as a problem during a routine manoeuvre of the B1 satellite. Sky also blamed the total solar eclipse that occurred the same day, with the solar panels being in shadow and unable to recharge themselves. Astronomers said that it was extremely unlikely there was any connection, as the satellite would only have been in shadow for a few more minutes than usual, if even in the shadow of the Moon at all during the eclipse. [ [,2106,3622764a10,00.html New Zealand, world, sport, business & entertainment news on ] ] Service was resumed at 8 a.m. (9 p.m. London, 4 p.m. New York) on March 31 2006. [ [ CFM ] ] SKY credited customers with one days' subscription fees as compensation for the downtime, at a cost to the company of NZ$ 1.5 million.

This outage prompted a New Zealander by the name of "Ben" to jokingly list the satellite as an item for sale on New Zealand's online-auction website [ TradeMe] , eventually clocking up over 231000 page views and receiving much feedback and even mention in local media. It was listed with the description "One slightly used digital TV broadcast satellite. Seems to be misbehaving at the moment, unsure what the problem is, so bid at your own risk."

Sky TV is currently one of the world's fastest growing and most successful pay TV operators per capita.

Sky TV has recently completed the digitization of its studios in Auckland.

Sky provides a number of channels to TelstraClear for their Cable Television offering.

Prime Television

In November 2005, Sky announced it had purchased the free-to-air channel Prime Television for NZ$30 million. Sky uses Prime to promote its pay content and to show delayed sports coverage. New Zealand's Commerce Commission issued clearance for the purchase on February 8, 2006. [ [ Commerce Commission Website - Sky cleared to acquire Prime Television ] ]


In July 2005, SKY Network Television Limited and Independent Newspapers Limited merged the two companies into a new company “MergeCo” which was renamed Sky Network Television Limited. [ [ CFM ] ] . More than 40% of the equity is owned by News Corporation, an American company chaired by Rupert Murdoch.

Products and Services


The following lists all current digital channels, including those available in UHF and Free To Air (FTA). Channel numbers for the digital service changed March 1, 2007.

Channels Available

Interactive Services:
* SKYbet - interactive sports betting service.
* Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) - Television listing information.
* PlayinTV Games - video games.
* MindGames - challenging video games.
* Weather Channel - interactive weather maps and information.

Future Channels:
* October 1 - The Country Channel

* TBA - Discovery Travel & Living
* The Comedy Channel

My Sky

In December 2005, Sky released its own Personal Video Recorder (PVR), which essentially is an upgraded set top box similar to Foxtel IQ in Australia or TiVo in the U.S.. Called "MySky", it offers viewers the ability to pause live television, rewind television, record up to two channels at once straight to the set top box and watch the start of a recorded programme while still recording the end. It also gives viewers access to a revamped Guide and the new Planner, used to plan and access recordings at the touch of a button. However the PVR box remains the property of Sky Television. This generation of box was replaced by "MySky HDi" when it launched on July 1, 2008.

High Definition

It was announced that as of 1 July 2008, a new service called "MySky HDi" is to be the successor to the MySky service released in 2006. The HD channels available are Sky Movies, Sky Movies Greats and Sky Sports 1 and 2, as well as free-to-air channel TV3. There are no plans for the HD versions of TVNZ's TV ONE and TV2 to be included in the HD package at present.

The new boxes allow connection of to up to four satellites which can work with its four TV tuner cards in any combination. Two channels can be recorded at once, while another can be watched live and the fourth is for a non-real time pay per view service. The device has a 320GB HDD however only 160GB is available for recording, the remaining is reserved for on-demand downloads. The quality of HDi Sky is 576i via component and 720/1080i via HDMI.

ky On Demand

Sky announced late 2006 that it will be using the 30% reserved disk space in the PVR to offer a video on demand service to its MySky customers. This service commenced in 2007 and offers 12 - 15 titles at any one time. New titles will be downloaded automatically from the Optus D1 satellite to the PVR and listed only when they are available for purchase and instant playback. Sky intends to add a remote programming feature to MySky allowing customers to program their PVR's using the Internet or mobile phones. [,2106,3887747a11275,00.html]

ky Mobile TV

In December, 2006, Sky announced that it will be launching a new mobile television service to Vodafone New Zealand's 3G customers.The channels include:
*Prime News
*Sky Sport News
*Cartoon Network
*Discovery Channel
*E! Entertainment Television
*Adult swim
*Playboy TV



Sky also provides a "SkyWatch" monthly magazine to all its customers, which is the number one monthly magazine in New Zealand by circulation.Fact|date=September 2007 The magazine provides monthly listings for Sky channels, as well as highlights and features.

ky Sport: The Magazine

In January, 2007, Sky launched "Sky Sport: The Magazine", as the published exstension of the Sky Sport television package. The magazine features articles by local and international sports writers, as well as sports photography.


DVD Unlimited

Sky also owns part of an Online DVD rental service - DVD Unlimited in partnership with New Zealand's largest Internet Service Provider [ Xtra] .

ky Online

Sky subscribers are able to download programmes to watch on their PCs if they pay an "administration charge" of $5 a month. Programmes available on Sky Online include films from four Sky movie channels, delayed sports broadcasts and a selection of programmes from Sky's start-up channel package. Customers can only view programmes if they have subscribed to the corresponding pay-TV channel.


SKY Digital subscribers get a standard 60-centimetre satellite dish installed on their home along with set-top boxes including modems for a return path.

Sky switched from the elderly Optus B1 to the Optus D1 satellite for its DBS service on 15 November 2006. Initially, Sky used vertically-polarised transponders on Optus D1 (as it had on Optus B1). However, on 31 July 2007 it moved its programming to horizontally-polarised transponders with New Zealand-specific beams to be consistent with Freeview and to gain access to more transmission capacity.

A set-top box (STB) is used to decrypt the satellite signals. Digital broadcasts are in DVB-compliant MPEG-2. Interactive services and the EPG use the proprietary OpenTV system, with operates both a UHF terrestrial pay television service on five networks of frequencies covering around 83 percent of the population and direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) service offering around 70 channels of programming.

ee also

*Optus Satellite Failures


External links

* [ Official site.]
* [ New Zealand Stock Exchange Listing.]

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