16 Sep 2013

Internet lobbyist claims participants pressured

6:40 pm on 16 September 2013

A lobby group pushing for lower internet prices says political pressure has gone on some businesses who wanted to take part in the campaign.

The Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing wants the Government to accept a draft recommendation from the Commerce Commission for the price of copper broadband to be cut by 25%.

Campaign chair Sue Chetwin won't name the businesses but says they are informally keeping them up to date with the Coalition's activities.

John Key last week said Chorus could go broke if the recommendation by the Commerce Commission to cut the price of copper broadband went ahead.

A spokesperson for Communications Minister Steven Joyce says the minister talked to three groups he understood had been approached to be part of the campaign, because he wanted to be sure they were aware of the reasoning behind the Government's pricing proposals.

He understands none of the three ended up participating.

The coalition has asked the NZX to inquire into the financial viability of Chorus after Mr Key made his statement last week that the telephone lines company could go broke.

The coalition said it is concerned that there may be information about the viability of the company that is not available to shareholders and the broader market and that the NZX is the appropriate agency to seek this information.

Chorus issued a statement to the market late last year saying it had very serious concerns about the commission's proposal, and it could require the company to fundamentally rethink its business model, capital structure and approach to dividends.