Funding and discriminatory exclusivity arrangements for TVNZ apps

A Birch made this Official Information request to Television New Zealand Limited

The request was partially successful.

From: A Birch

Dear Television New Zealand Limited,

(1) Please confirm whether any mobile device manufacturer or other third party (each a 'funding manufacturer') has provided funding or other consideration to TVNZ in connection with the design, development, operation, maintenance or promotion of any TVNZ app for any mobile, smartphone or other computing platform (eg: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac) (each a 'TVNZ app').

(2) Please confirm whether, in connection with such funding, TVNZ agreed to configure the TVNZ app's entry in the relevant platform app store (eg: Google Play, Apple App Store, Windows Store) (each an 'app store') so that the TVNZ app could only be downloaded and installed onto devices produced by the funding manufacturer (each an 'exclusive arrangement'). In other words, with the intention or effect of preventing devices produced by manufacturers other than the funding manufacturer from downloading the TVNZ app from the relevant app store.

(3) For each exclusive arrangement please confirm the name of the funding manufacturer, the affected app store(s), the commencement and duration of the arrangement and whether TVNZ has the option of terminating the arrangement for convenience.

(4) Please confirm whether, in considering entering into such an arrangement, TVNZ considered the harmful impact that such a discriminatory arrangement may have on manufacturers other than the funding manufacturer.

(5) Please provide copies of all contracts, memos, documents, emails and other correspondence and communications in TVNZ's possession or control which relate to any of the following matters:

(a) monetary, financial or other support for any TVNZ app by a funding manufacturer; or

(b) any exclusive arrangement; or

(b) configuration of any TVNZ app in a mobile platform app store so that it can only be downloaded and installed onto devices produced by the funding manufacturer; or

(c) configuration of any TVNZ app in a mobile platform app store in a manner that would prevent that app being downloaded and installed onto devices produced by manufacturers other than the funding manufacturer; or

(d) any other matter identified in paragraphs (1) through (4) above.

For the purposes of Section 9 of the Official Information Act 1982 please redact information that can genuinely be withheld in accordance with that section instead of declining to provide the relevant document.

Yours faithfully,

A Birch

Link to this

From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited


Attachment image001.jpg
3K Download


Dear A Birch

 

We have received your email today requesting information related to TVNZ
apps.

 

We will respond to your request in due course.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 
Brent McAnulty
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Director
D. +64 9 916 7935  M. +64 27 226 4913  W. [1]tvnz.co.nz

 

 

 

==========================================================
For more information on the Television New Zealand Group, visit us
online at tvnz.co.nz
==========================================================
CAUTION:  This e-mail and any attachment(s) contain information that
is intended to be read only by the named recipient(s).  This information
is not to be used or stored by any other person and/or organisation.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.tvnz.co.nz/

Link to this

From: A Birch

Dear Mr McAnulty,

Thank you for your acknowledgement of 4 May 2016.

Your response to this request is required within 20 working days and now appears overdue. Please respond at your earliest convenience to avoid further action.

Yours sincerely,

A Birch

Link to this

From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited


Attachment image001.png
6K Download

Attachment image002.jpg
3K Download


Dear A Birch

 

We refer to your emailed request of 4 May 2016 in respect of TVNZ’s
funding of applications.

 

We can confirm that TVNZ currently receives no funding from any ‘funding
manufacturer’, that no exclusivity arrangements are in place today, and
there are no restrictions.  Since July 2015 any device manufacturer that
implements the HbbTV standard (and approved by Freeview) will have access
to TVNZ OnDemand application.

 

We will respond to each of your specific queries in order.

 

 1. Please confirm whether any mobile device manufacturer or other third
party (each a 'funding manufacturer') has provided funding or other
consideration to TVNZ in connection with the design, development,
operation, maintenance or promotion of any TVNZ app for any mobile,
smartphone or other computing platform (e.g. Android, iOS, Windows,
Mac) (each a 'TVNZ app').

 

Development funding has been provided by two manufacturers in the past.
This funding was partial funding and did not cover the full costs of
development. The actual level of funding is commercially sensitive to TVNZ
and those organisations, and therefore this level of detail is withheld
under section 9(2)(i) of the Act.

 

 2. Please confirm whether, in connection with such funding, TVNZ agreed
to configure the TVNZ app's entry in the relevant platform app store
(eg: Google Play, Apple App Store, Windows Store) (each an 'app
store') so that the TVNZ app could only be downloaded and installed
onto devices produced by the funding manufacturer (each an 'exclusive
arrangement').  In other words, with the intention or effect of
preventing devices produced by manufacturers other than the funding
manufacturer from downloading the TVNZ app from the relevant app
store.

 

Samsung provided funding for the development of a TVNZ OnDemand Android
application specifically for Samsung Devices. In exchange for funding,
TVNZ agreed not to make the application available to non-Samsung devices
in the Google Play store for a period of time. As each device manufacturer
has varying implementations of Android, restricting use also protected
non-Samsung Android users from a poor experience. Some models of Samsung
Android devices weren’t compatible and therefore blocked on the same
basis. TVNZ no longer restricts download of the Android Application but
currently only supports Samsung devices as the cost of extending this
service to other devices currently outweigh the likely returns.

 

Any Microsoft Mobile capable device can download the TVNZ OnDemand
Application as the Windows Operating System is a consistent standard and,
as such, can be supported.

 

 3. For each exclusive arrangement please confirm the name of the funding
manufacturer, the affected app store(s), the commencement and duration
of the arrangement and whether TVNZ has the option of terminating the
arrangement for convenience.

 

TVNZ has no exclusive agreements in place with any manufacturer. TVNZ
previously had one exclusive arrangement in place for a temporary period,
which has since expired.

 

 4. Please confirm whether, in considering entering into such an
arrangement, TVNZ considered the harmful impact that such a
discriminatory arrangement may have on manufacturers other than the
funding manufacturer.

 

TVNZ’s primary concern is with the user experience and the number of
viewers it can reach on each platform. It is not economically viable for
TVNZ to support every variation of Android device in market. TVNZ chose to
develop OnDemand on Samsung devices due to their market penetration and
standardised approach to Android OS deployment.

 

 5. Please provide copies of all contracts, memos, documents, emails and
other correspondence and communications in TVNZ's possession or
control which relate to these matters.

 

These are commercially sensitive to the organisations involved. Section
9(2)9i) applies in this regard.

 

In our view the withholding of the information is not outweighed by other
considerations which render it desirable in the public interest to make it
available. 

 

In accordance with Section 19(b) of the Act we advise that you have the
right to seek an investigation and review of the above refusal by making a
complaint under Section 28(3) to an Ombudsman.

 

 

Yours sincerely

[1]cid:image004.png@01D1BCAA.CE7CC280

 

 

 
Brent McAnulty
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Director
D. +64 9 916 7935  M. +64 27 226 4913  W. [2]tvnz.co.nz

 

 

 

 

 

 
Brent McAnulty
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Director
D. +64 9 916 7935  M. +64 27 226 4913  W. [3]tvnz.co.nz

 

 

==========================================================
For more information on the Television New Zealand Group, visit us
online at tvnz.co.nz
==========================================================
CAUTION:  This e-mail and any attachment(s) contain information that
is intended to be read only by the named recipient(s).  This information
is not to be used or stored by any other person and/or organisation.

References

Visible links
2. http://www.tvnz.co.nz/
3. http://www.tvnz.co.nz/

Link to this

From: A Birch

Dear Mr McAnulty,

In relation to your response "[TVNZ no longer restricts download of the Android Application] but
currently only supports Samsung devices as the cost of extending this
service to other devices currently outweigh the likely returns" (brackets added) this response appears in accurate.

Specifically, in relation to point 5, please provide full details of the current configuration of the TVNZ OnDemand app in Google Play as regards filters, device compatibility and excluded devices. It appears that filters (https://developer.android.com/google/pla...) or device compatibility restrictions or excluded devices (https://support.google.com/googleplay/an...) are in place and are preventing users of non-Samsung devices from downloading the TVNZ OnDemand app.

Yours sincerely,

A Birch

Link to this

From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited

Hi again

We no longer restrict download of the Android TVNZ OnDemand Application. However, we have not unrestricted access for any model that was restricted during the exclusivity period with Samsung. Again, this is not due to any exclusivity. Rather, it is due to the usability issues the viewer could experience and TVNZ’s ability to support them.

As an aside, the only device we have actively restricted recently is the Samsung S7. Users of this device are unable to download the application as it requires development for the TVNZ OnDemand application to work. TVNZ is undertaking this development. While this development is in progress, the user cannot download the application from the Google Play store.

If you have a specific device you are concerned about, we’d be happy to look into it.

Regards
Brent

Brent McAnulty
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Director
D. +64 9 916 7935 M. +64 27 226 4913 W. tvnz.co.nz

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: A Birch

Dear Mr McAnulty,

By reference to point 5 of my original request, please provide:

[a] a list of the make and model of all Android device manufacturers and/or models that were still being blocked as of 4 May 2016, together with any device models (other than Samsung Galaxy S7) that have been blocked since that date

[b] for each device model identified in [a] above:

[i] the date on which that device model was last subjected to individual compatibility testing for the TVNZ OnDemand app (or "model not tested" if that device model was not subjected compatibility testing)
[ii] the Android version(s) and build number(s) used on the test devices
[iii] the specific TVNZ OnDemand behaviour(s) or usability issue(s) that resulted in TVNZ deciding that the specific device model should be restricted or blocked from downloading TVNZ OnDemand

[c] confirmation of whether any funding device manufacturer provided a list of device models to TVNZ for the purpose of restricting or blocking those device models from downloading the TVNZ OnDemand app.

For your reference, I have side-loaded several successive versions of the TVNZ OnDemand APK onto multiple device models that are currently being blocked by TVNZ OnDemand's Play Store configuration and have experienced no usability issues whatsoever. This leaves the unfortunate impression that TVNZ may not have tested each blocked model before blocking it and instead did a blanket block of prominent non-Samsung Android models that were in-market at the time these restrictions were added.

If TVNZ insists on only testing TVNZ OnDemand with Samsung devices I suggest that the TVNZ team responsible TVNZ OnDemand for Android [1] updates the Play Store configuration to remove all model- or manufacturer-specific restrictions on devices (aside from devices models like Samsung Galaxy S7 that TVNZ has tested and confirmed as being unusable on the latest version of TVNZ OnDemand) and [2] appends wording along the following lines to the Play Store description:

Compatibility note: TVNZ OnDemand requires Android [4.1] or higher [and your device will need to support [insert any other specific requirements here, or delete all the wording in square brackets]]. TVNZ has tested this app on [insert list of certified device models] only. Although the app can be downloaded and installed on other Android devices, TVNZ does not guarantee that the app will work on those devices and will not provide support if you experience problems.

Yours sincerely,

A Birch

Link to this

From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited

Thanks for your email. 

 

I'm out of the country until Monday 13th June with limited access to
email. 

 

If you require urgent assistance please call my EA Joy Savage on 09
916-7512.

 

Otherwise I will reply on my return.

 

Regards

Brent

 

Link to this

From: A Birch

Dear Brent McAnulty,

I refer to my follow-up of 8 June 2016. A response is now due in relatuon to this request. Please promptly provide the requested information to ensure compliance with the Act.

Yours sincerely,

A Birch

Link to this

From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited

Dear A Birch

We are compiling the data you have requested. I have chased it us this morning.

On your other points, we have discussed the non-Samsung Android devices and advise:

• Samsung dominates NZ and World markets in terms of mobile user adoption, generally capturing 50 percent of the market. It has made good sense to support Samsung Android devices as the scale device in this market.
• TVNZ will validate what the next scale device is in this market.
• Once validated, TVNZ will test the device with our current build of TVNZ OnDemand to ensure there are no usability issues.
• If there are no user issues or material bugs, we will make the application available for that device. If there are issues, we will continue to deny access.

While you offer one possible approach in terms of releasing the TVNZ OD application more broadly with a disclaimer, we feel many viewers will ignore the disclaimer and have an expectation TVNZ will support them and failure to do so will damage our reputation. We don’t have the resource to support all Android devices and feel the approach of releasing TVNZ OnDemand to the next-largest Android device by market share is the best compromise.

We appreciate you making us aware of this issue. If it would assist I am happy to put you in touch with our GM of Product and you can have a conversation.

Cheers
Jason

Brent McAnulty
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Director
D. +64 9 916 7935 M. +64 27 226 4913 W. tvnz.co.nz

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited

Hi again

Further to my email earlier this morning, our GM Product has informed that:

[a] essentially all manufacturers of Android devices other than Samsung are blocked.

[b] we couldn’t provide a list of Android device models as we’re not privy to all devices model in market - it would be a very long list. We do not have the resource to individually test and support every Android device in market. I barely have funding to purchase and test the biggest selling Samsung devices.

[c] The answer is emphatically no.

Again, we are in the process of identifying the next scale device in market behind Samsung. We will test with some devices across that manufacturer and make an assessment on that basis. This activity is based on our ability to provide and support a positive viewer experience. We cannot support opening up the total Android based to TVNZ OD even with a disclaimer as we will be knowingly releasing a product to market that does not perform.

Regards

Brent McAnulty
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Director
D. +64 9 916 7935 M. +64 27 226 4913 W. tvnz.co.nz

show quoted sections

Link to this

Luke left an annotation ()

Well done TVNZ for providing answers to this requester in what was a lengthy series of technical questions.

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Television New Zealand Limited only: