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Sky, Vodafone play down rivalry danger

Sky, Vodafone play down competition threat
Sky Network Television and Vodafone New Zealand are playing down the threat to competition posed by a merged telecommunications and pay-TV operator in the markets they currently operate in, which they say has plenty of rivals.

In their application to the Commerce Commission seeking clearance for a merger, Sky and Vodafone say there’s no meaningful overlap in the services they each offer, and an increasing number of online video competitors and intense rivalry among telecommunications providers. Those constraints mean a combined Sky and Vodafone won’t be able to pull any wholesale content services, which it doesn’t plan to do, and couldn’t reduce competition in the markets.

“The combined group will face strong and growing competition across pay-TV, premium content, and telecommunications markets,” the application said. “Consumers’ viewing behaviours and the relevant markets are changing rapidly, and consumers’ expectations of their telecommunications and pay-TV providers are ever increasing.”

Shareholders will vote at a meeting in Auckland on July 6 on the merger proposal, which would see Sky TV acquire Vodafone NZ for $3.44 billion through the issue of new shares, giving Vodafone Europe a 51 percent share in the combined group, and cash of $1.25 billion. Sky plans to borrow $1.8 billion from Vodafone to fund the purchase, repay its existing debt and fund the working capital needs of the group after the merger.

The application to the regulator says Vodafone’s reason for pursuing the merger is to meet converging communications and broadcasting markets, chasing cross-marketing opportunities in an expanded offering and using Sky’s content to drive broadband usage. For Sky, the deal puts it in a stronger position to fend off online offerings that have gained traction with consumers.

Among the application’s redactions, the companies kept the entire counterfactual section confidential. They sought confidentiality citing commercial sensitivity which would unreasonably prejudice their respective positions if released.

Sky shares rose 0.4 percent to $4.70, having increased 2 percent this year.

Japanese space agency to trial electric cable for space junk removal


The space agency is planning an experiment to remove simulated space junk as part of efforts to develop a simple and inexpensive disposal system for objects that might puncture the International Space Station or destroy satellites.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said scientists will try to slow a cylindrical object and steer it toward the atmosphere, where debris typically burns up.

Space junk beyond a certain size is monitored by the U.S. military but there is currently no effective means of removing it.

The experimental equipment has been loaded in the Kounotori 6 cargo transporter, being prepared for launch this fiscal year from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The experiment is expected to take place this fall.

After delivering supplies to the ISS, which orbits at an altitude of 400 km, the Kounotori transporter will descend to an altitude of 380 km. It will attach a 700-meter cable to the simulated space debris, an object weighing 20 kg, and apply an electric current to it.

The cable is composed of many thin metal strings and was jointly developed by JAXA and a manufacturer of fishing nets in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The debris disposal method relies on how objects move when an electric current is applied in a magnetic field. The agency will test whether the object can be shunted toward the atmosphere by applying a force against its direction of travel.

The agency is not planning to dispose of actual space debris in the test but it believes the same mechanism should work for items of concern.

After completing the test, the transporter will detach the electric cable and enter the atmosphere, where it will burn up.

Defunct satellites and pieces of rockets are orbiting the Earth at speeds of around 7 km per second. Even small fragments can be fatal to satellites and to human life.

The agency says it may launch a small junk-removal satellite aboard an H2-A or H2-B rocket in the future


Sky, Vodafone play down rivalry danger

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