Stuff sale and NZME paywall

Stuff has an article on it’s own pending sale, and also has a look at NZME’s proposed NZ Herald paywall in Stuff faces possible break-up as NZME readies its wall

Australian media company Nine hopes to have the sale of Stuff Ltd pretty much wrapped up by the end of June.

Nine is expected to put out an “information memorandum” on the business in a few weeks that should give potential buyers and tyre-kickers a clear picture of the business.

Nine’s clear preference is for a clean sale and a quick exit from the New Zealand market.

But a key question is whether Stuff might be worth less as an integrated business than the sum of its parts.

If it is, then Nine could be forced get its hands dirty to extract full value from the divestment, or alternatively it could sell Stuff to a private equity buyer that would then break it up.

Stuff has already sold or closed quite a bit of regional media.

On the NZME paywall:

NZME has reportedly been researching a $3 to $7 weekly fee for access to some “premium” content on its NZ Herald website.

That would be $156 to $364 per year! How many people would be prepared to pay that?

In August, chief executive Michael Boggs forecast NZME might convert 4 to 6 per cent of its online audience – which is shy of 2 million – into paying customers.

He based that on what he said was the benchmark in Australia, where paywalls have been around longer and encompass a wider range of content.

However, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism in the United States estimates the top 10 per cent of paywalled publications only succeed in persuading 1.3 per cent of readers who hit the stop sign on a paywall to then pay up.

Companies may be prepared to pay several hundred dollar subscriptions, but I doubt there would be many individuals who would.

Whoever takes over Stuff will have an obvious interest in the NZME paywall plans. If it flops Stuff will be even more wary of trying similar – in fact if NZME loses readers by paywalling ‘premium’ content then Stuff would have an opportunity to pick them up. But that will depend on what happens in the attempt to sell off Stuff.


Auckland Council seeks sale of Bright’s house

A protest that may have gradually got out of hand may now result in Penny bright losing her house.

Council seeks sale of Kingsland property to recover rates

Auckland Council has asked the High Court to proceed with the sale of a Kingsland property owned by Ms Penny Bright to recover unpaid rates and penalties dating back to 2007.

The council obtained a judgment against Ms Penny Bright in the Auckland District Court in January 2016.

Following an unsuccessful appeal by Ms Bright and a statutory six-month stand down period, the council has now asked the High Court to commence the sale process.

“Taking enforcement action to recover unpaid rates is the last resort and happens very rarely,” says Auckland Council’s Acting Group Chief Financial Officer Matthew Walker.

“The council has written to Ms Bright regularly over the last six months offering to resolve this matter. We have also offered to meet with her to discuss rates postponement, which she has declined.

“While we would prefer not to have reached this point, the council needs to be fair to the thousands of Aucklanders who do pay their rates or have a payment plan in place.

“It’s important for property owners to know that there are always options available to resolve unpaid rates without causing financial hardship, including through a rates postponement. As a result, in almost all cases like this, we have been able to avoid taking enforcement action.”

The judgment was for $34,182.56 in rates and penalties outstanding as at 30 June 2015. The council has been awarded total costs in the District and High Courts of $20,329.20.

If an arrangement can’t be reached with Ms Bright and the sale of the property goes ahead, it will be used to recover the full amount of outstanding rates and penalties and any further costs, including real estate agency and legal fees.

The remainder of the proceeds from the sale would be released to Ms Bright through the Public Trust.


Background to Ms Bright’s outstanding rates:

  • Ms Bright stopped making rates payments in 2007.
  • Auckland Council first issued proceedings against Ms Bright in 2011 seeking to recover payment of unpaid rates from June 2006 to June 2011.
  • It obtained judgment by default however that was set aside by the Court on technical grounds.
  • In 2015 the council sought summary judgment for unpaid rates from June 2011 to January 2015.
  • In January 2016, the District Court entered judgment for Auckland Council against Ms Bright for $34,182.56 for outstanding rates and penalties. Costs were awarded in the council’s favour for $13,249.20.
  • In July 2016 the High Court dismissed Ms Bright’s appeal and awarded costs in favour of the council for $7080.00.
  • In March 2017 the council applied to the High Court to enforce the judgment by sale pursuant to section 67 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (LGRA).
  • In May 2017 the High Court issued a notice pursuant to the LGRA requiring Ms Bright to pay the judgment sum, costs and all remaining rates due on the property.
  • After a compulsory six-month stand down period, in December 2017 the council requested the High Court to proceed with the sale of the property.
  • Throughout this period the council has continued to invite Ms Bright to make payment or to apply for a rates postponement. No payment or application has been received.

When withholding payments in protest it would be prudent to set aside the money in case you need to pay it, as is very likely with something like rates, but penalties can also grow a debt substantially.

Losing your house is a high price to pay for a highly questionable stand on some sort of principle. The only real loser could ever have been Bright.


Half price, 60% off, sale etc

The Commerce Commission is prosecuting Bike Barn for misleading advertising regarding bikes advertised at “half price” when they normally sold for that price, and for advertising a “clearance sale” when the bikes were also available before and after the so called sale at the same price.

Bike Barn has indicated it will plead guilty.


The only thing that surprises me is that this sort of prosecution doesn’t seem to happen more often.

There’s a number of things I wouldn’t consider buying unless they were ‘60%’ off or ‘half price’ – I think everyone knows this sort of pricing is commonly used as virtually an alternative week price and you pay through the nose if you are sily or desperate enough to but on the other week.

Sales used to be things that a shop would have once or twice a year. Now once or twice a week is common. It’s farcical.

The problem shops have now is they have oversold specials so much for so long their persistent pitches are meaningless.

Sales are so entrenched as normal marketing now it’s not uncommon for overlaps – like ‘Boxing Day Sale’ advertising on Christmas Eve.

‘Half price’ means half the price that would be a rip off. ‘Sale’ now means ‘the shop is open’.

Not all shops do this, but the most prominent advertisers do, like Briscoes, Harvey Norman and that vacuum cleaner place that I have honestly forgotten their name for the moment.

It’s dishonest advertising, and i hope the Commerce Commission takes a harder line on it.

Scarfie house

A bit of nostalgia – the house that featured in the movie Scarfies is up for sale.

ODT reports: Piece of movie history up for auction

If only the walls at 49 Brown St could talk. This Dunedin house on the hill has a colourful history.

It was once a house for refugees after World War 2 and before that, it is believed to have been a brothel.

I lived in that house before Scarfies, I boarded there with the owner family and other boarders in the mid seventies.


I was in the top right room. Many people will have lived at 49 Brown Street.

More recently, the house was used in the film Scarfies, which told the story of five students who moved into an abandoned house and discovered marijuana plants in the basement.

The house is now for sale with Edinburgh Realty and will go to auction later this month, though the basement portrayed in the movie does not exist.

I remember the poky ‘basement’ as the owners did some re-piling work while I was there.


As the Scarfies house (the colour I remember it)

Movie details: Scarfies aka Crime 101

Dunedin being Dunedin I’ve also had something to do with the owner of 30 years, both professionally and then later she purchased a different house off me (another old character house).

For years, the outside of the Brown St flat was “very creepy” because the family could not afford to paint it, which made it perfect for the film, she said. But in reality, it was nothing like the sinister flat portrayed in the Scarfies movie.

“The inside was always quite lovely. It was humble, but bright – a very sunny flat with amazing views – views to die for.”

It was old but tidy enough when I was there and yes, great views over Dunedin and the harbour. And a steep climb up many steps each day to get there after work.

“It will be a wonderful opportunity for someone else to own a piece of Dunedin film-making history.”

Nah, not interested.

The house must have been painted recently. If you look at it on Street View from Brown Street it looks very tidy (top photo)…


…but from the side street it looks more like it’s Scarfie days (and similar but more run down than the seventies).

Shopping sheep shambles

Retail mania seems to have taken over the Season’s greetings period, with many willing participants.

Even before the push to spend spend spend on Christmas was over the Boxing Day sales were being promoted, where you could get up to 60% off like most other sales.

Some retailers extend their Boxing Day Sale while others rename it to End of Year Sale – that’s good for a few days promotion without changing their copy.

Then we will have New year sales. After that they have to be more creative about what they call their weekly sales.

And TV ‘news’ joins in the promotion – of course it’s good for them a market that boosts their advertising budget in the silly season.

Banks will be looking forward to the surge in credit card interest payments next month.

The Christmas holidays have become a shopping sheep shambles.

At least some of us have the cricket to relax with.