Brakes put on Sky-Vodafone merger

Spark New Zealand and 2Degrees have been granted a stay on the proposed merger between rival Vodafone New Zealand and pay-TV operator Sky Network Television to consider their legal options.

"We now await the Commission's decision tomorrow morning (Thursday 23 February) on whether to clear the proposed merger".

The merger is due to be decided by the regulator on Thursday.

Sky said it was considering the implications of the ruling.

Spark is asking the High Court to order that, in the event the Commission gives clearance, this does not take effect until 36 hours following release of detailed reasons underlying the Commission's decision.

"The stay is important for natural justice and fairness, as it will ensure all interested parties have a chance to properly consider the commission's reasoning and make informed decisions on whether to seek a judicial review if there is a clearance decision".

"We and others believe the proposed merger will be bad for consumers - resulting in poorer choice and higher prices for consumers, especially when it comes to sports content".

Sky TV has repeated last week's refusal to delay putting the merger into effect it it is approved.

Today, network operator Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said he supported the merger, which would see premium video content shift to an internet-based delivery instead of satellite distribution giving greater flexibility and control to consumers.

Spark wants a 36 hour delay should the Commerce Commission approve the merger between Sky Television and Vodafone.

Sky said in a separate statement that it would challenge the stay in a court hearing scheduled for February 22, and that the pay-TV provider would seek damages.

Shares in Sky TV were halted, having fallen 2.7 percent, while shares in Spark edged up 0.6 percent.

  • Carolyn Briggs