TVNZ in Tivo down under buy?

New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ has reportedly bought into Hybrid Television Services, the Seven Media Group venture to sell TiVo in Australia, for A$15 million (US$9.5 million).

Seven is looking to sell up to two-thirds of its 100% stake in Hybrid, with the deal apparently offloading a third to TVNZ, which is a state broadcaster but funded partially by commercials. TVNZ is one of the key players in New Zealand’s satellite and terrestrially-delivered Freeview digital TV platform.

A report on Australian online news and commentary service Crikey claims a deal has already been done and TVNZ wants to launch TiVo in New Zealand. The box would be marketed as picking up the Freeview platform. In Australia, there is no monthly subscription fee for the TiVo service.

PVR products are already on the market in New Zealand, marketed as MyFreeview boxes.

Seven Media Group, which is itself a joint venture between Seven Network and private equity house Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), is under financial pressure. Seven recently wrote down its investment in the company to zero as the group labours under a pile of debt brought in when KKR purchased the stake back in 2006. Asset sales are clearly on the agenda to reduce some of that debt.