Mean­while, over in the murky chan­nels of me­dia play­ers...

Vet says cat­tle dis­ease claims are re­sult of ‘com­mer­cial vendetta’

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER ANDREA VANCE

SKY Tele­vi­sion chief ex­ec­u­tive John Fel­let got some side­ways looks last Au­gust when he said in the com­pany’s an­nual re­port that ‘‘piracy’’ was the com­pany’s big­gest com­peti­tor.

But he may have been more in touch than it seemed.

Eight years ago, my taxi driver ranted about Sky Tele­vi­sion’s pric­ing as he pulled out from Auck­land Air­port and headed to­wards Sky’s head­quar­ters, in subur­ban Mt Welling­ton.

But this time, mak­ing the same THE owner of a vet busi­ness un­der scru­tiny by of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gat­ing the my­coplasma bo­vis out­break says he and his cus­tomers are the vic­tim of ‘‘a com­mer­cial vendetta’’.

Steve Tay­lor is a part owner of Wai­heke Is­land-based Vet Di­rect Ltd. It im­ports and sup­plies cut-price drugs to farm­ers, un­der­cut­ting tra­di­tional prac­tices.

And he said his jour­ney, my Fi­jian-In­dian driver is much more laid­back.

He never misses a Cru­saders match, but he doesn’t watch it on Sky Sport. In­stead, for years, he has used an An­droid me­dia player sold by WorldMax TV.

It only costs about $200, he tells me, ‘‘and af­ter that you don’t have to pay any­thing’’.

There is heaps of pro­gram­ming in­clud­ing all the sports he wants, the taxi driver as­sures me, and it is re­li­able, with streams that rarely shut down.

WorldMax TV’s re­views on so­cial me­dia are best de­scribed as ‘‘mixed’’. ‘‘unashamedly cut-price’’ model has been tar­geted by ru­mour and ‘‘spu­ri­ous in­for­ma­tion.’’

‘‘We never were un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion ... we are clear. I need to de­fend my­self,’’ he told Sun­day News.

Vet Di­rect sup­ply South Cen­tre Dairies, the South­land farm widely re­ported to be the first in­fected with the dis­ease. Tay­lor said the com­pany’s prac­tic­ing vet, Alexandra Gil­more, had a hand­ful of cus­tomers across the coun­try. That’s al­lowed for un­der the law.

But ‘‘now many white peo­ple use WorldMax as well’’, the driver tells me. ‘‘Sky have lost so many cus­tomers.’’ The only dis­ad­van­tage is there is no news.

Does he think the pro­gram­ming is all above board? He isn’t too sure.

WorldMax TV’s web­site says it has 50,000 cus­tomers world­wide. It pro­motes its pro­gram­ming from In­dia, Pak­istan and Nepal, but its call cen­tre op­er­a­tor con­firms I can get the Su­per Rugby and yes, it’s le­gal, she as­sures me.

She is Pak­istani but tells me the com­pany is ac­tu­ally

The ma­jor­ity of the busi­ness in­volves fill­ing pre­scrip­tions ob­tained from other vets for farm­ers – ‘‘a bit like the hu­man phar­macy model’’.

South Cen­tre Dairies owner Al­fons Zeestraten also had an­other In­ver­cargill vet that he used for emer­gen­cies and non­rou­tine care, Tay­lor said. ‘‘That vet’s been in­ter­viewed by MPI and I believe that’s all tick­ety­boo as well.’’

But the un­usual re­la­tion­ship drew the at­ten­tion of MPI of­fi­cials who vis­ited in March. Aus­tralian. The link to WorldMax’s Welling­ton re­seller is bro­ken but she gives me the cell­phone num­ber of an agent for the com­pany in Welling­ton, who helps me out.

He tells me I can watch ‘‘any ma­jor sport­ing event hap­pen­ing in the world’’ and that rugby is just part of it.

Af­ter I iden­tify my­self as a re­porter and ask if it is le­gal or pi­rated, he says WorldMax TV is just pro­vid­ing links to stream­ing web­sites and doesn’t own any­thing. I should prob­a­bly call the com­pany’s agent in Syd­ney.

Sky spokes­woman Chris Ma­jor says ‘‘rogue op­er­a­tors sell­ing in­ter­net stream­ing boxes pop up ev­ery now and then’’ and it doesn’t have any spe­cific com­ment about WorldMax TV.

‘‘We have sought a rul­ing from the courts re­gard­ing the le­gal­ity of the sale of in­ter­net stream­ing boxes pre-loaded with piracy soft­ware. We await judg­ments from the Auck­land High Court re­gard­ing My Box NZ, and the Christchurch Dis­trict Court re­gard­ing Fi­bre TV, to de­ter­mine if they breached New Zealand fair trad­ing laws by mak­ing mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to con­sumers about their prod­ucts.’’

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