The New Zealand Herald says that up to eight new free-to-air television channels could be available shortly. TelstraClear has put up for sale its half of a transponder on the Optus B1 satellite, because TV is no longer its core business, and the newspaper says secret talks are already underway with a range of large and small broadcasters. It says an announcement of which company or companies are the successful bidders could come as early as next week. Industry sources say the sale could raise between $3 million and $4 million, or up to $500,000 for each channel.
State-owned Television New Zealand and transmission company BCL, along with private companies TV3 (CanWest) and Sky TV are all believed to be interested, along with smaller players such as Mai TV of Auckland, City TV in Wellington and the Christian channel Shine, which screens on Sky’s satellite network. But the paper says there are concerns that one of the big players, such as TVNZ or Sky, might try to buy the lot to keep out competitors for viewers and advertisers.