GUEST BLOG: Kim Robinson – Disability access being threatened by major NZ media companies



In the past week, another ISP switched off their Global Mode access due to the threat of legal action by NZ’s major media companies – Sky Television, Television New Zealand, Mediaworks and Spark subsidiary Lightbox.

Global Mode access allows NZers to subscribe to overseas streaming services such as Netflix US, Hulu etc.

Their reason being:

“The television companies said in their legal demand that Global Mode let people access shows from companies that did not have the local rights to programming and thereby undermined the value of exclusive New Zealand rights to shows that the television companies had paid for.”

Consumer NZ has accused these companies of ‘protectionism’.

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The most serious of all that comes with this threat of legal action will prevent viewers with disabilities who require an alternate access option to fully follow the streamed content will be axed.

Given that the companies who are issuing the threat of legal action do not provide this access themselves (Captioning for Deaf, Audio-Description for Blind subscribers), their actions are a breach of Human Rights.

Netflix US for example is 100% captioned.

Lightbox, Neon TV, OnDemand etc isn’t captioned.

Through axing Global Mode, they’re axing access to a wider choice of legal goods that have captions. This puts the disability sector at risk of becoming criminals for seeking pirated captioned content due to the fact that these NZ media companies won’t provide the means of access.

Global Mode has allowed the disability sector to fully participate in an aspect of society on the same page as our fellow human beings. Now that’s under threat of being taken away.

The NZ Media companies have given notice to all NZ’s ISPs etc to disable their Global Mode access by 5pm Wednesday 15th April or face legal action.

If the legal action occurs, this will automatically turn into a Human Rights issue that affects everyone creating the perfect flash point towards defending the value of accessibility. At 5pm today – this basic fundamental human right will be under direct attack.

NZ can do better than having to go through a costly legal progress. All parties that this issue affects directly need to sit down together in a forum and maturely sort this out together to benefit every company and the consumers who use the services.

The opportunity is there… consider it.


Kim Robinson; Whangarei
A passionate Human Rights advocate/activist focused on making NZ 100% accessible for all citizens with disabilities.