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SKY New Zealand is a satellite and cable provider, and not part of the more famous Sky News, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. That is an important distinction to note, because SKY has taken Sky News Australia off the air in the country over their coverage of the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch.
SKY tweeted about the reason for their decision on Friday.
The controversy was over Sky News Australia replaying footage from the infamous video streamed by the murderer during the rampage.
New Zealand police advised people not to show the footage in a tweet sent on Thursday. “Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,” it read. We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.”
Nevertheless, News Corp’s Sky News Australia continued showing the footage, which prompted the pulling of the plug.
The above tweet from SKY New Zealand was deleted on Saturday and replaced with a more specific explanation.
A spokesperson for SKY told the New Zealand Herald that the decision was made on behalf of their viewers and the people of New Zealand.
“We made the decision to remove Sky News Australia from our platform while disturbing footage of the shootings was being shown to avoid causing any distress to our viewers,” the spokesperson said. “It will remain off air until we are confident the footage won’t be shared.”
Later, more emphasis was place on the integrity of the investigation, and credited Sky News Australia for prompt cooperation, in a statement to Buzzfeed.
“As the live rolling events of the Christchurch shooting unfolded, an editorial decision was made by Sky News Australia to offer sports programming to SKY NZ in place of Sky News Australia’s live feed to ensure any footage or reporting did not compromise the ongoing investigations taking place in New Zealand,” they said. “Sky News Australia acted responsibly and prudently in replacing the service as soon as it was able to early yesterday evening after consulting with SKY NZ management.”
A bit of a story shift over the course of a day or so, in that they removed and replaced their tweet, and their spokespeople offered two different explanations for the basis of the decision, as well as who actually made the decision.