TVNZ branches out from free-TV heartland
Written by Rose Major
Sunday, 07 March 2010 11:20

TVNZ, the state-owned New Zealand broadcaster, is making its first foray into pay-TV. Heartland will launch on Sky NZ Digital in June.

Planned as an archive service, the channel will be available as part of Sky’s basic package. It will air 100% local content, with TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis saying TVNZ Heartland was planned as a “showcase of New Zealand’s best home-grown television.”

The move to pay-TV fits with the broadcaster’s strategy document Inspiring New Zealanders on Every Screen, released in 2006, added Ellis.

“Sky's enthusiasm for the idea has given us an opportunity to build a commercially-viable channel that will bring first class New Zealand content to a big audience. Without the Sky pay platform, this project would not have gone ahead,” he said.

The two companies are thought to have struck a deal for Sky TV to carry TVNZ Heartland on an exclusive basis.

John Fellet, chief executive of Sky TV NZ, added: “This vault of content which includes some of New Zealands most beloved shows is the biggest untapped resource since the Maui oil fields.”

The Heartland programme schedule will be released in May.