Gloomy economic forecast to kick off 2023

It’s Tuesday, January 17 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. You can get in touch with me at


Gloomy economic forecast to kick off 2023

It’s Tuesday, January 17 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. You can get in touch with me at

Jan 17 2023

Sky reveals price increase to sport packages – and a Sky Box update

The new Sky Box: smaller and whiter than the old Sky Box

If you’re a Sky Sport customer, get ready: that subscription is about to increase. In a year when five world cups will be held, the local pay TV provider today told customers its prices would rise from March 1, with Sky Sport going up by $3 a month, and Sky Sport Now increasing by $5.

It blamed “significant costs associated with sports broadcasting  including event rights fees, production of live games and highlights, and studio shows that dive into the detail behind the action” for the rising prices. It comes after recent increases for subscriptions to Apple TV+ and Disney+.

That’s not the only Sky news out this week with the broadcaster posting an update on its long-delayed new set top device, the Sky Box, and its digital-only device, the Sky Pod. Originally slated for release in the middle of 2022, Sky confirmed the two devices have been sent out for trial with a selection of existing Sky customers and media.

The new Sky Box: smaller and whiter than the old Sky Box

It called the Sky Box, which will replace existing set top satellite boxes, “the most transformative product we’ve delivered for our customers in some years”. Its Sky Pod is for customers who don’t want a satellite dish on their rooftop, calling it “an ideal solution for customers who have accessed Sky through the soon-to-close Vodafone TV”.

Whether or not any of that is true will have to wait for confirmation; The Spinoff has been promised both devices for review once an NDA with a strict embargo is signed.

The Last of Us is as good as the reviews suggest

Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey, and Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, in The Last of  Us. Photo: HBO

I’ve never played The Last of Us games but I’ve heard a lot about them and so I was fairly dubious about HBO’s big budget adaptation that started airing this week. How wrong was I?

Debuting with an almost perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, the nine-episode post-apocalyptic drama is probably going to be the biggest show of the year, and is already primed for awards season 2023 (especially with other major shows like House of the Dragon on hiatus until 2024).

The Spinoff’s Chris Schulz reviewed it in this week’s Rec Room newsletter where he described it as “everything The Walking Dead wishes it could be”. He’s pretty spot on, with the first episode evoking that same sense of excitement/dread that the debut episode of that show provoked over 10 years ago (before it went entirely off the rails).

New episodes launch Mondays on Neon and we at The Spinoff cannot recommend it enough.

Businesses expecting economy to worsen in 2023

The (Image: Getty Images)

A new survey from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has revealed almost three quarters of business expect the economy to get worse across 2023.

It’s the weakest result on record, with a net 73% of business expecting economic conditions to get tougher.

National’s finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said the government needs to come back from the summer break with a proper fiscal plan. “The government’s failure to rein in spending and address labour shortages mean Kiwis are being slammed by rapidly rising interest rates. It’s no surprise that the cost of that failure has left businesses feeling gloomy,” said Willis.

“Alarmingly, the number of businesses expecting higher costs and higher prices have increased since the last survey – suggesting more cost of living pain is on the way in 2023.”

The cost of living is set to dominate this year’s election, and the government will likely dedicate much of the upcoming budget to tackling the problem.

Efeso Collins poised to join Green Party – report

Efeso Collins at his election day event. (Photo: Toby Manhire)

Former Auckland mayoral hopeful Efeso Collins could be joining the Green Party, the Herald has reported. 

Collins, who was endorsed by both Labour and the Greens at the 2022 local election, would have a good chance of getting a high list ranking, making his journey into parliament significantly easier.

According to the Herald, the Greens are currently selecting their candidates for this year’s general election. At least two high profile Green MPs have already announced their intention to quit politics this year, potentially freeing up a spot for Collins.

Collins told the Herald he was enjoying a break from local politics and was continuing “to weigh up my options for the future and have made no concrete decisions“.

Efeso Collins at home in Ōtāhuhu (Photo: Toby Manhire)

Fred Again or Haim? Laneway’s set times have landed

Laneway in its previous home in Albert Park. Photo: Supplied

Yard Act or Fazerdaze? Slowthai or Fontaines DC? Mallrat or The Beths? And Phoebe Bridgers or Turnstile? These are some of the questions Laneway fans are being forced to answer today as the set times drop for summer’s biggest festival yet.

This year’s Laneway, the first in three years and supersized to a new venue at Western Springs Stadium, features a heavy hitting line-up for its January 30 event that also includes Joji, Girl in Red, Finneas and The Beths. It’s a line-up so good that when tickets initially went on sale, they sold out in 90 minutes, forcing the venue upgrade. Now, with close to 30,000 predicted to attend, it’s the biggest summer festival Aotearoa has to offer – and the biggest Laneway festival ever.

Like any major festival, there are clashes. Haim or Fred Again at the end of the day seems like the biggest of them all, but there are plenty of others. Do you want to see Billie Eilish’s big bro Finneas perform, or get in the mosh for cartoon noise-punks 100 Gecs? How about Norwegian singer-songwriter Girl in Red, or Irish punk act Fontaines DC? Or do you book tickets for the pre-party the night before, where Turnstile, 100 Gecs and Yard Act are playing, and free up your Laneway schedule for some of the other acts?

These decisions are personal, so get out your marker pen, start circling, and work out which acts you want to see the most. And keep an eye out for The Spinoff’s upcoming tour of the new venue, which will have all the details on how to get around Western Springs, where the stages are, and, most importantly, which toilets will be the least used.

Jeremy Clarkson’s career on the line after Meghan Markle column

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in their with Oprah Winfrey.

There’s that saying… actions have consequences.

Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has found himself in very hot and increasingly deep water over an incendiary column he wrote about Meghan Markle.

In the column, published in the Sun before Christmas, Clarkson suggested the Duchess of Sussex be made to “parade naked” through Britain while people “throw lumps of excrement at her”, a reference to a scene in Game of Thrones.

It prompted widespread outrage, including from Clarkson’s own daughter, and thousands of complaints to the British media regulator.

Now, it’s been reported that Amazon is likely to part ways with Clarkson after the conclusion of already-commissioned programmes. That means, reports Variety, Clarkson will remain on screen until 2024 as part of The Grand Tour (his Top Gear follow-up with Richard Hammond and James May) and Clarkson’s Farm.

In a new apology posted to Instagram, Clarkson described Amazon as “incandescent” about the column – but said he had written to Prince Harry and Markle on Christmas Day to try and make things right.


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A post shared by Jeremy Clarkson (@jeremyclarkson1)

The Bulletin: Will the He Waka Eke Noa legislation get through before the election?

Farmer’s Weekly reports that speculation is growing about whether the government will have enough time to pass the legislative framework required to price agricultural emissions before the government’s legislative programme wraps up ahead of the election. Just before everyone headed off on holiday, the government outlined several changes to the proposed emissions pricing system that it said would give greater certainty to farmers and better recognise on-farm sequestration.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel described the changes as the government demonstrating it “has moved closer to the primary sector position and is willing to engage”. I’m not sure this one was on a lot of people’s dance cards for legislation that may not get through before the election but Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says “the organisation’s own analysis and well-placed sources” have told him the government may run out of time.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 36,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.  

Hello Fresh accused of charging customers for cancelled food boxes


Consumer NZ has come to the rescue after receiving numerous complaints about food box service Hello Fresh.

The watchdog says it has been made aware of Hello Fresh customers being charged for boxes they opted not to receive, though the food delivery company claims not to be in the wrong.

“Any customer who cancels their box before the cutoff date is entitled to a full refund – they should not have to fork out to return the box they cancelled – even if their terms say otherwise,” said Consumer NZ’s head of content, Caitlin Cherry.

“HelloFresh has obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act to carry out services with care and skill – they cannot shirk their responsibilities.”

As a former Hello Fresh customer I can sympathise with the difficulties some have experienced in getting their box deliveries paused or postponed. As Consumer notes, some customers have complained that skipping deliveries via the Hello Fresh app doesn’t always work.

Cherry said there are some easy steps concerned customers can take:

  • When you skip or cancel – take a screenshot. “This could come in handy if you need to provide evidence that you opted out of a delivery.”
  • If you skipped your order within the specified timeframe, but HelloFresh refuses to provide a full refund, you can contact your bank to request a chargeback, provided you have paid on a credit card or debit card. Alternatively, you can escalate the matter to the disputes tribunal.
  • Finally, report any issues to the Commerce Commission: “that way the Commission knows about matters affecting New Zealanders”.