36 hours of scrutiny essential on Vodafone-Sky merger

InternetNZ has advised the High Court it supports telecommunications companies’ requests to delay the proposed merger between Vodafone New Zealand and Sky Network Television by 36 hours, in the event this merger is allowed to proceed by the Commerce Commission.

The Commerce Commission is due to release its decision on the merger application on Thursday morning, 23 February.

“If the merger application is approved by the Commerce Commission, Vodafone and Sky will likely complete the merger almost immediately. This will mean that appropriate scrutiny of the Commission’s decision won’t be able to occur,” says InternetNZ Deputy Chief Executive, Andrew Cushen.

InternetNZ has participated throughout this merger application process, raising concerns that the Vodafone-Sky merger may raise network neutrality issues and diminish competition for telephony and pay TV services.

“The Commission was clearly concerned about these matters as well - hence they took the unprecedented step of releasing the Letter of Unresolved Issues late in 2016,” says Cushen.

The telecommunications companies’ applications to the High Court seeks an order to prevent the merger from being completed for 36 hours following the release of the Commission’s decision. This would allow the necessary analysis of the decision, if approval of the merger is granted.

“36 hours is the bare minimum amount of time to allow InternetNZ and other parties the opportunity to assess the Commission’s decision.

“This delay is vital to let us and others check whether the evidence and submissions presented during the merger assessment process have been heard and considered. We need to make sure the merger - if approved - will not be to the detriment of New Zealand Internet, phone and TV users.

“InternetNZ supports the actions to ensure that any merger outcomes will not come at the cost of New Zealanders,” says Cushen.