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Dateline: 24 February 2000 Early Edition
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Frustrating Local News Sites And The Telecom Inquiry
My God, the local news industry is really useless when it comes to getting news to the Web!

There was plenty of publicity about the government inquiry into Telecom yesterday so I went to the country's top local news sites to get the good oil this morning -- here's what I found at just after 8 am:

  • At One News, I found just four paragraphs dated Wednesday 23.

  • Over at The NZ Herald I got this result when trying to access any part of the site. However, forty minutes later, when the site was back up, The NZ Herald provided the most timely and comprehensive coverage of this story -- full marks to editorial -- demerit points to those responsible for the technology.

  • At the XTRA NZ News site I found nothing at all about the inquiry and noticed that the news content hadn't been updated for more than 13 hours.

  • Likewise I could find no reference to the story on The Press website.
So... points to TVNZ for at least having a server that works and a brief mention and points to the NZ Herald for having good coverage even though their server seems to have trouble getting out of bed occasionally -- come to think of it -- the Herald site is acting a lot like the old NBR site used to -- is the common (frequently breaking) link Cold Fusion I wonder?

However, I've got to say that on this example one could be forgiven for exhibiting more than a little frustration at trying to find early-morning national news on the Web.

Don't fret too much though, we are in good company. Attempts to contact the Sydney Morning Herald site this morning uncovered the fact that Telstra's damp string must have dried out somewhere -- it was down too!

However... The Government Inquiry Into Telecom:

I wonder if this inquiry isn't going to turn into yet another Labour/Alliance witch-hunt where, rather than the inquiry being challenged to find out whether there's a problem and whether action should be taken, it is instead told in advance what its findings must be and all it therefore needs do is find someway of justifying them.

Regular readers will know that I'm no supporter of Telecom's abuse of the monopoly they hold on the local loop -- but I get very worried when I see a bunch of career politicians and failed schoolteachers (no offense intended to successful schoolteachers) embarking on a move to wade in and tell Telecom exactly how they should run their business and how much profit they are entitled to earn.

Such moves may be acceptable in the very small area where Telecom's local loop monopoly provides them with unfair advantages -- but I heard a member of the government asserting that the price of Internet access was a target of the inquiry. Excuse me -- but there are plenty of people matching Telecom's $39/month flat rate -- with plenty of others bettering it and some charging more. That sounds like a fairly healthy situation to me.

So long as the inquiry remains focused on the few key issues of interconnect agreements, number portability, 0867 and abuse of the local-loop monopoly then there will be no problem -- but Anderton's sabre-rattling as deputy PM and Minister of Economic Development worries me a lot -- because the very fact that he's outspoken in his desire to nationalise Telecom must throw doubt on the objectivity of any inquiry into the operation of this public company.

As always, your comments are gladly received.


General News & Current Events:
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