‘I regard this as a desperate, cynical attempt by Steven Joyce to create a diversion’ – Grant Robertson

Labour finance spokesperson Grant Robertson confidently defended his Party’s budget, refuting Stephen Joyce’s accusation it had a $11.7b spending hole. Source: 1 NEWS

Sky TV shares slump to lowest level in 18 years after report Amazon will bid for NZ Rugby broadcast rights

Sky Network Television shares dropped to their lowest level in more than 18 years after a report that global internet giant Amazon is making a play for New Zealand's rugby broadcasting rights, a key drawcard for the pay-TV operator.

The shares fell as low as $2.58, the lowest since January 1999 and before the merger with former cornerstone shareholder Independent Newspapers Ltd.

The stock was recently down 7.5 per cent, or 21 cents, to $5.59, on a day that holders lost the rights to a 12.5 cents-per-share dividend.

The Auckland-based company has been under pressure this year to address sinking subscriber numbers at a time when online streaming video offerings such as Netflix are seen as a cheaper alternative to Sky's service.

One of the major pieces of value seen as protecting Sky's customer base has been its retention of rugby broadcast rights and a production team that would be hard to replicate.

The New Zealand Herald reported this weekend that Amazon is likely to compete for the next round of rugby broadcast rights from 2021 via its Prime Video streaming service.

"There's continuing uncertainty over the long-term prospects for Sky TV," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch.

"I think analysts have almost given up on them."

While ownership of premium sporting content has been a boon for Sky it also proved an obstacle to its proposed merger with Vodafone, a move it says is a response to the changing media environment.

The Commerce Commission eventually shot down the $3.44 billion deal on concerns that a combined group's premium sporting content could be bundled into a single mobile, landline, broadband and pay-TV offering.

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Mother and three children died from carbon monoxide poisoning after car left running in garage, Coroner rules

A Coroner has ruled an Ashburton mother and her three children died from carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving a car running in the garage.

Coroner Marcus Elliott's findings on the tragic deaths of Cindy Tangipurunga George, 31, her daughter Pio Scarlet Jetekura Raukete, 5, and her sons Teuruaa Junior George, 3, and Telyzshaun Gordon Ricardo Neider Kruz George, 2, on July 2, 2015, was released today.

Ms George was looking after the home for people on holiday in Thomson St, Tinwald, and when she and her children were discovered, they had been dead for some time, the Coroner's findings said.

It said that Ms George collected the mail and ran the car at the home so the battery wouldn't go flat.

They were last seen on June 27, 2015, but were not discovered until the home owners returned on July 2.

The Coroner ruled that Ms George left the door connecting the garage and the house ajar, leaving no ventilation and allowing carbon monoxide - which is deadly but odourless - to enter the house.

He ruled that she likely forgot and, starting to feel the effects of the carbon monoxide, had been heading to the garage to turn the car off when she fell, leaving her with a bloody face.

The children were in the lounge, where they had been preparing to sleep the night, with cushions and blankets around them.