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Will New Zealand get satellite radio?

Will Sky be NZ's happy place for sat radio?

North Americans can be accused of taking our selection of radio broadcasting for granted. Sure, I’ll be amongst the first to complain about the homogenizing effect consolidation has had on commercial radio. Yet even small cities in the US and Canada have a wide variety of commercial, college, non-commercial and public stations to choose from. On top of that we can opt for satellite radio. It may often be a case of “500 channels and nothing’s on,” but sometimes it’s nice to know you have those 500 channels.

However, this is not necessarily true in other countries. Take New Zealand, for example. This island nation of about 4.4 million has a pretty well developed broadcast system of both commercial and public stations. But, for better or worse, neither terrestrial or satellite digital radio broadcasting has yet to take hold there.

That may change. News Corp-owned satellite television provider Sky TV reportedly is considering offering a satellite-based radio service in New Zealand. A Sky spokesman said that they “have been looking at the same system that is used in the United States.” One would presume he means the same system used by Sirius/XM, rather than the audio channels which are currently available over Sky’s TV service. For instance, Radio New Zealand is available on Sky’s audio channels. Also, there really isn’t a discrete satellite-based radio service outside of the US and Canada.

An advantage of satellite radio for New Zealand comes from the fact that there are sparsely populated and geographically remote areas of the country that are difficult to serve with terrestrial broadcasts. However, there are few additional details about what the service would look like, not even what kind of programming might be aired.

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