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New Farming Channel to Launch on SKY

Media Release
1 August 2008
New Farming Channel to Launch on SKY

The Country Channel, a dedicated farming news, information and lifestyle television channel, is to be launched on SKY’s digital satellite network on October 1, this year.

The Country Channel, targets New Zealand’s rural community and will feature daily updates on new products and systems as well as rural based news and lifestyle shows. The channel will be available free to customers with SKY digital’s start up package for the month of October. The Country Channel when launched will be accompanied by a sophisticated website ( as part of the communication package.

Colin Harvey, Chairman, The Country Channel Limited says, the vagaries of New Zealand’s communications networks and New Zealand’s topography mean that until now the written word has remained the most effective way to reach the rural sector.

“Through SKY’s 100% coverage, businesses and farm organisations will be able to reach their highly specialised target audiences quickly and efficiently”says Harvey.
Country Channel producer Andy Tyler says a one-hour daily news and information show, FARMGATE, will be the centrepiece of programming on the channel with 20-minute sponsored slots available to businesses and organisations which need or want to reach a dedicated rural audience.

“For example fertiliser companies will have a great forum to discuss the benefits of nutrient management programmes or the pressure on world prices while an organisation like Dairy NZ can quickly reach a wide audience with new information designed to improve on-farm productivity,” says Tyler.

“Rural lenders and farm advisors have an ideal channel to their audiences and there is a huge range of rural sector service providers who can more effectively get their message to farmers. Those on lifestyle blocks will also have an information source that can help with their animal management.”

SKY Director of Communications, Tony O’Brien said The Country Channel is another example of SKY partnering with local entrepreneurs to deliver new and innovative channels and programmes to service niche or specialist television markets

“Farming and agri-business remains the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, but is not well served by mainstream television media,” said O’Brien. “The Country Channel adds television to the mix of specialist rural communications publications and has the potential to fill a major information gap in the rural sector and showcase just what our farmers achieve on a daily basis.”

Mr Tyler said content on the channel would be shown in rotating blocks throughout the day to cater for varied outdoor schedules with the schedule centred on FARMGATE.

“This show will be our focus with an experienced and dedicated production team fronted by a credible rural commentator or identity. It will include segments on farming news, long range weather and market reports.

“It will also be shown four times a day and we see the programme as giving in-depth analysis and coverage of issues in the rural sector as well as providing a showcase for farming technology and processes.”

Mr Tyler said FARMGATE would be supported by local content as well as relevant content produced in Australia and the United Kingdom.

“We’re also currently developing a local programme based on a rural vet service that we see as being very helpful to both farm and lifestyle block owners. In addition to locally made programmes, the channel will include relevant overseas content, as New Zealand farmers face many of the same pressures and issues that are developing overseas.”

The Country Channel will be on SKY digital channel number 99, launching October 1 this year.


SKY Television (SKY), in more than 45% of New Zealand homes, is New Zealand’s pre-eminent pay television operator, offering a wide range of sports, movies, music, on-demand and general content across more than 100 channels. SKY broadcasts on a digital satellite network, a terrestrial UHF network, via cable through an arrangement with TelstraClear and on Vodafone’s 3G network. SKY’s channel line-up includes 7 sports channels, 6 movie channels, 7 general entertainment channels, 5 documentary channels, 5 news channels, 4 children’s channels, as well as other niche channels. (As of 31 December 2007 SKY had 720,919 subscribers).
SKY launched as a three-channel UHF service in 1990, with two further channels added four years later. SKY’s UHF signal reaches more than 83% of the country’s 1.5 million households. In December 1998 SKY launched a digital satellite service, extending its reach to the whole country. SKY also offers pay-per-view movies, live events and interactive services including Skybet, the Weather Channel, and games channels Mind Games and Playin’ TV.
With the establishment of a new on line DVD rental service and in December 2005, the launch of MY SKY, a new set top box incorporating a personal video recorder and in July 2008, MYSKYHDi, delivering High Definition content, SKY is positioned to bring New Zealand viewers even more entertainment options.
On 8 February 2006, SKY completed the purchase of the New Zealand television business of PRIME Television Ltd. The acquisition of a free-to-air channel gives SKY the opportunity to showcase its channels and programmes whilst ensuring that New Zealand consumers can view delayed free-to-air sports programmes such as rugby, rugby league and cricket in primetime.
For further information, please visit SKY’s web site at

The owners of the Country Channel Ltd have a deep involvement in the rural sector and are committed to agri-business in New Zealand. The launch of the Channel is underpinned by their collective knowledge and confidence in rural markets. They are confident that this Channel will form the strongest rural communication platform in New Zealand.

The Directors of The Country Channel are:

Colin Harvey ONZM
Founder of Ancare, New Zealand’s largest animal health company, (since sold to Merial); Director of Ancare Scientific Ltd; Managing Director EDiT ID Ltd; Member of CRAG (Capitalising on Research Action Group); Chairman NZIAS Trust; Board member of Massey University Foundation; Board member NZ Agritech Inc; Managing Director Lake McKay Station Ltd; Board Member NZ Agritech Inc; Board Member ARPPA.

Dallas Fisher
Director and Shareholder of NDA Engineering Group &Dairy Technology Services (major suppliers to the New Zealand Dairy & Wine sectors); Joint owner of Belmont Dairy Farms Ltd, Maniototo; Director of Brandish Advertising & People Publishing.

Larry Ward, BComm
More than 20 years as a professional marketer in senior corporate roles with an additional 10 years as a direct marketing consultant in subscription marketing. Received a number of international marketing awards.

Andy Tyler
More than 30 years experience in film and television in both the UK and New Zealand. Sheep and beef farmer for 12 years. Director and Shareholder in a number of communications companies.

For further information, please visit the Country Channel’s web site at

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