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TV3 Risks A Slap On The Wrist 7 March 2002 Edition
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Regular TV watchers will be very much aware that TVNZ has become quite aggressive in establishing its web presence (NZoom.com) through on-air promotion.

The URL of the TV1 and TV2 websites are regularly displayed on our screens and some locally produced programs go to great lengths to remind us that you can get more info on the Web.

Clearly TVNZ considers its online presence to be an important part of its business.

Given the effort TVNZ is putting into building its online branding, I wonder whether competitor TV3 might not be cruising for a bruising?

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In fact, I'd say that those silly folks at TV3 have left themselves wide open to getting their pants sued off for breaching TVNZ's trademarks.

What's more, given that it has just embarked on a vigorous campaign to reinvent itself and establish its branding in a new (younger) segment of the marketplace, I suspect that Prime TV might also be lining up to fire a shot or two of its own.

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    So just what has TV3 done to breach the trademark of its competitors?

    A visit to the TV3 website shows no indication that it is using TVNZ or prime's trademarks without permission so what's the problem?

    Well it's a little thing called a "meta-tag."

    Here's the offending meta-tag being used (as of March 6, 2002) by TV3.co.nz:

    <META name="keywords" content="Movies, News, Weather, Sports, TVNZ, TV3, TV, Prime, TV4, Sky, Television Programmes, Movie Stars, TV1, TV2, Television Movies, Film Stars, Competitions, TV Listings, 20/20, 2020, Entertainment, Whatson TV, Kids stuff, TV Movies, Shows, TV Shows, TV programmes, Sports news, sports coverage, streaming video, top site, downloads, canwest, above line advertising">

    Spot the problem now?

    Although I'm unaware of any test case here in NZ, overseas experience shows that some plaintiffs have prevailed in law suits against others who have used their trademarks in meta-tags without permission.

    The Searchengine Watch website has a good summary listing just some of the actions brought by trademark owners for such infringements of their rights.

    The overal consensus appears to be that including a competitor's trademarks in your own metatags is at the very least "bad ethics." Shame on you TV3!

    So just what attracted my attention to the source code for TV3's website?

    Well, it seems that the web designers (ir)responsible for this site didn't allow for visitors who might have scripting turned off on their browser. Instead of (at the very least) displaying a nice friendly message inviting users to turn on their scripting, the site goes into an endless loop -- reloading the same seemingly blank page over and over again.

    Other TV Trivia
    But hang on -- NZoom hasn't been without problems of its own recently. This page (screenshot) seems to indicate that TV1 wont be broadcasting anything on Friday -- oh dear.

    While I'm on this lightning tour of TV websites, I see that Prime TV has given its site a quick face-lift to go with that new image. By the way -- I hope all Star Trek fans are aware that there are three generations of the show (including a new prequel series "never before seen in New Zealand" called "Enterprise" screening on Sunday nights.

    And finally -- I've had some emails regarding more changes to Sky TV's set-top box software.

    According to readers, the latest update which provides the long-awaited email and other interactive services is causing Zenith boxes to spit the dummy and cry "Network Error" with monotonous regularity. I note that the company has (once again) euphemistically attributed the growing length of queues on its phone lines to "greater-than-expected business" (NZ Herald report) -- hmmmm!

    Reports suggest that the oldest of the Zenith boxes wont even accept the new upgrade and the rest are beginning to suffer from worn-out power cords as users are forced to pull the plug to force a reset at increasingly regular intervals.

    DSL, digital TV, PC operating systems -- don't ya just love the service levels provided by monopolies and defacto monopolies?

    Have your say.

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