The Commerce Commission has been probing Sky TV's content deals continues for the best part of a year.
Given Sky TV reports its results tomorrow, NBR thought it would check in on progress.
The investigation continues, a spokeswoman told NBR - and there's no deadline.
"Investigations are very hard to determine a timeframe on, as there are so many variables," NBR was told.
"The next step would be a decision as to whether there are issues under the Commerce Act, and then how we might resolve any issues."
But when that will happen is anyone's guess.
The story so far:
On May 16 last year, the Commerce Commission cleared the Sky TV (51%) - TVNZ (49%) joint venture igloo, but added the kicker:
“While this was not part of this investigation, we are aware of concerns that access to content and Sky’s contracts with internet service providers may be hindering competition. As a result, we have now opened a separate investigation under sections 27 and 36 of the Commerce Act.”
That comment came after (then) TelstraClear CEO Allan Freeth complained his company's partnership with Sky TV was nearing a commercial "pain point."
Dr Freeth said while TestraClear could source movies, TV shows or channels from anywere for the T-box used by some of its cable internet customers, its contract with Sky TV forbid it charging for any content unless it was sourced from Sky TV.
The second part of the Commission's statement was more intriguing, and potentially a lot more sweeping. To wit:
The Commission said it would also look at also look at "whether Sky’s agreements for the acquisition of content harm competition by denying actual or potential rivals access to a critical mass of quality content."
It's an intriguing question.
On the one hand, Sky TV has long argued that it's not like Telecom, which inherited a state monopoly. Rather, it built its position in the market over years of blood, sweat, tears and hundreds of millions in losses. It's investors took the risk, and now they're enjoying the reward. Looking at the immediate situation, CEO John Fellet says his company has paid for local rights for HBO shows like Game of Thrones, and has a right to recoup its costs as through the exclusive broadcast (online and offline) of those shows in NZ.
Against this, new entrants clearly are having trouble gainiing a critical mass of content - a problem brought into focus by Quickflix near-death experience late last year. In the end, the online streaming service cobbled together a $A5 million lifeline, but its content line-ups still draws guffaws on social media.
Sky TV's nightmare scenario is so-called anti-siphoning legislation, as we've seen overseas, which prevents a pay TV provider from monopolising a sports event. A number of countries have also put a single regulator in charge of both telecommunications and television as the industries converge.
I'm not sensing any regulatory or politcal will to push through such a change here - but Sky TV investors will still be a touch nervous until the ComCom puts its content investigation to bed.
And, done the track, I think Telecom CEO Simon Moutter is right. As the likes of HBO have their regional contracts up for renewal, technology changes could well let to them entering non-exclusive arrangements, or otherwise seeking to directly reach consumers "over the top" of Sky TV via the likes of iTiunes.