SKY TV shares plummet over seven per cent on news of subscription price drop

SKY TV's shares have plummeted by over seven per cent today on the news they are modifying their pricing packages to include a cheaper entry point as the number of satellite TV subscribers continues to drop.

The current share price is sitting at $2.59, as of 1.33pm, down 21 cents from the previous close of $2.80.

This price comes close to its five-year low, which was recorded at $2.45 in December.

Almost 34,000 subscribers cancelled their Sky subscriptions in the year to June, prompting the company to look at other options.

Sky's 'Sky Basic' package, which costs $49.91 per month will now be split into two smaller packages called Sky Starter and Sky Entertainment.

People could then choose Sky Starter for $24.91 per month, which features a more limited range of channels compared to 'Basic'.

This means customers could subscribe to a deal including Sky Sports for $54.81 per month, a cut from the current $79.81 minimum.

Those customers who kept both of the newly-minted packages would now also receive the $9.99 Soho channel for free.

The company has also reported a five per cent drop in overall revenue to $433 million for the six months to December.

Despite lower revenue, the company has increased its net profit for the year, up 12 per cent to just under $67 million due to an eight per cent drop in operating costs.

The packages start from as little as $25 per month. Source: 1 NEWS



Kānuka oil creating hope for East Coast locals

A tree that was once cleared without a second thought, the kānuka, could be the answer to land erosion on the East Coast - if the usefulness of its oil can be scientifically proven.

Kānuka - which comes from the same family as mānuka - covers about 30 percent of Tairawhiti-Gisborne region.

The Kānuka Optimisation Project, led by Hikurangi Enterprises, recently got $240,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries' erosion control funding programme to figure out exactly how the trees could help with erosion as well explore the commercial viability of kānuka oil.

Hikurangi Enterprises director Bella Paenga, who lives 20 minutes north in Tikitiki, said it was once treated as a pest and cleared extensively to make way for forestry and farming.

The practice had wrecked havoc on the land and waterways, she said.

"Our rivers are filled with silt, we've got full-grown trees coming down our rivers destroying the quality of life that we know here. Our normal now is when there's heavy rain we're flooded," she said, with debris in the river and blocking roads.

Ms Paenga said locals had long used kānuka to treat acne, eczema and stress but it had to be scientifically proven before any commercial production could get underway.

Alvaro Vidiella and Irene Lopez-Ubiria from VLU Science are currently assessing the bioactivity of the oil, but they think it could be just as valuable as mānuka oil.

Mr Vidiella said they were also working to confirm how the trees might protect the region's steep land from further erosion.

"The canopy reduces the impacts of raindrops on the ground and the roots are holding the ground.

"By clearing the land and just having grass for grazing you will have a lot of slips and also erosion that can't be seen - the sheet erosion - which is just washing away the topsoil constantly."

"With this project what we are trying to understand is what is kānuka's role in reducing that erosion and if it becomes an economically viable way of using the land we would like to not use it as a monoculture - planting it in lines in a flat field - but using it as it would naturally grow and around the land's contour lines where it would protect the soil."

Ms Paenga said kānuka was the most common native species in the region and if it could be used for commercial gain it would incentive landowners not to clear it.

A new industry would also encourage those from the area who had left to come home, she said.

While it might not make them millions overnight, Ms Paenga said they were happy to wait.

"I know the natives is a slow climb to be creating an income but it's a long lasting income and that could be a really high-value income that could change the quality of life for the people back home. Without having to sacrifice our whenua and the things that are special to us."

One of the kānuka landowners, David Monika, has 220 acres in Ruatoria.

He is the only one in his family living on their ancestral land but hoped the others would return, if there was work.

"A lot of my family used to stay here, but they've packed up and gone to Australia, but they'll be lining up to come back when some things start happening around here - when factories start going up."

But before that can happen though, a lot of work is still to be done and hundreds of samples are still to be harvested and tested.

The project is due to be completed by the start of 2020.

- By Rebekah Parsons-King.

rnz.co.nz

Bella Paenga, Hikurangi Enterprises Director and David Monika, Ruatoria landowner, are working on the The Kānuka Optimisation Project. Source: rnz.co.nz


AA calls for speeding ticket alternative as number issued in 2017 the highest in three years

The Automobile Association (AA) is calling for an alternative to paying speeding fines, as police reveal tickets issued last year hit a three-year high.

Fines in 2017 created a staggering $74 million in revenue, which looks set to climb even higher as more speed cameras are rolled out.

The busiest speed camera in the country is in West Auckland, generating 5500 tickets worth almost half a million dollars.

In the past six months alone more than 205,000 tickets were issued - already surpassing last year's high.

"There's been a slight increase for the first six months of 2018 because we put in new speed cameras or safe speed cameras out into the districts," Inspector Peter McKennie says.

The AA wants warning signs at all fixed camera sights and is calling for education over stinging drivers in the wallet.

"Maybe we need to do what some other countries do and that is for repeat speed offenders give them the option instead of paying the fine, that they can actually go on a course and waive the fee.

"Speed cameras won't work if people are getting tickets two weeks later in the mail and it's too late for people to change their behaviour," AA spokeman Mark Stockdale told 1 NEWS.

However, police say they've already been showing leniency.

"We've applied a measured enforcement approach to those new cameras sending out some warning letters for some low-end speed to educate people," Inspector Peter McKennie says.

AA is calling for an alternative to paying speeding fines. Source: 1 NEWS

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Taitā fatal assault - police seek man with possible facial injuries, witnesses who drove past scene

Police investigating the fatal assault of a man on a Lower Hutt street on Friday night are looking for a man who may have facial injuries and are calling for witnesses who drove past the scene of the altercation to come forward.

Faapaia Fonoilaepa, a 29-year-old painter from Avalon, was killed during a fight near the intersection of High Street and Burcham Street in Taitā just after 7.30pm.

Police said today they are still looking to speak to a man who was seen leaving the area in a silver station wagon, which was later found in Pringle Street. 

Police believe he may have been assaulted, and potentially has noticeable facial injuries, the statement said. There are concerns for his welfare as he may require medical attention, it said.

The man is described as Māori, of medium build, aged 30-40, with dark hair and facial tattoos. He was wearing black clothes.

Anyone who has knowledge of this man's whereabouts is being encouraged to get in touch with police as soon as possible. 

Police say they have also reviewed CCTV footage from several nearby buildings and have determined that a number of vehicles drove past as the physical altercation unfolded. Any witnesses are being urged to get in touch with police.

Meanwhile, a female witness police were earlier seeking has now been located and she is assisting with inquiries, the statement said.

Anyone with any information about the incident or the man described can phone Lower Hutt Police on (04) 560 2600.

Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Armed police are at the scene where a man was killed in a fight in Lower Hutt last night with police hoping to remove the body from the scene this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS


Over 1400 properties set to be without power overnight as Wakatipu region reels under Spring snow dump

More than 1400 properties are set to be without power in the Wakatipu area overnight after heavy snowfalls knocked down powerlines.

Aurora Energy says extreme weather conditions and difficulty of access is hampering restoration of power to affected customers, but power has been restored to more than 3000 customers during the course of the day.

Power remains out for 1436 people after heavy snowfall and the company says affected customers should prepare to be without power overnight. 

Areas affected are Fernhill, Lake Hayes and Gibbston Valley, Speargrass Flat and Lower Shotover,  Glenorchy, Dalefield and Queenstown's Littles Road.

Snow on the Crown Range. Source: NZTA

Line crews are working hard to restore power in challenging conditions as off road conditions are treacherous and tracks are hidden and very slippery, an Aurora spokesperson said this evening. 

Crews are still on site at Arrowtown, Dalefield, Queenstown and Frankton to repair faults caused by snow-load on trees and branches.

The safety of the public and line crews is of utmost importance at all times, the spokesperson said.

The public is being reminded to keep well clear of fallen power lines or damaged electrical equipment and treat them as live at all times.

Arrowtown woke up to a thick blanket of snow as winter had one last blast for Otago.
Source: 1 NEWS