Rival carriers slam “brazen” Foxtel/Telstra tie-up


A lobby group representing rival carriers has slammed Foxtel’s request it be allowed to offer a new IPTV service to customers on the condition that they have a broadband connection with its part-owner Telstra.

The CCC represents a number of telcos such as Primus, iiNet, AAPT and more — but not Telstra. It is led by director David Forman. Some of these telcos – such as iiNet – are planning to offer IPTV services that will only be available to customers of their own broadband infrastructure.

“There is no technical reason why Foxtel could not make this offer available to the customers of any broadband provider. In fact, it should be in Foxtel’s interests to open the offer to customers of all broadband providers,” said the CCC in a statement issued yesterday.

Because Telstra is half owner of Foxtel, Telstra has an incentive to use this relationship as another means to exploit its market power to reduce consumer choice,” it added.

The group will argue that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – which is currently examining the proposal – turn it down.

The CCC added that the proposal was “a brazen example” of how the current structure of the telecommunications industry was failing consumers – and stated that the proposal was another example why the Senate needed to pass Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s legislation to reform the telecommunications industry – including the forced break-up of Telstra’s wholesale and retail operations.

“Only a change of the law will remove the incentive on Telstra to continue to act against the interests of competition and the long term interests of consumers,” said the CCC.

In its submission, Foxtel noted that the current market for the supply of audiovisual content was “highly competitive”.

It noted, for example, that customers could already watch free to air television (including online episodes known as ‘catch-up TV’), DVDs, online video services offered through the TiVo and Apple TV platforms, online video services offered through iTunes, YouTube and the ABC’s iView application, and subscribe to other payTV offerings from rival providers Austar, Optus and SelecTV.

Foxtel also highlighted the imminent launch by Telstra telco rival iiNet of its own internet video service through IPTV specialist FetchTV. And it even noted that online television network joint venture Hulu could come to Australia.

Foxtel and Telstra have been invited by email to comment on the CCC’s statement. Any response will be added into this article.

Image credit: Ry Young, royalty free


  1. Yeah, this is a tough one make no mistake. The adage in the digital millennium is ‘content is king’ and I have no doubt at some point all media entering our homes will arrive over IP packets and not long waves.

    In the old days the delivery mechanism was independent of the content provider, but shortly my choice of carrier is going to have a massive impact in the sources of media I can easily consume. The only way to have a truly fair playing field is to once again separate content providers/creators from delivery, but this is already a lost dream with studios signing up exclusive deals with carriers all over the place.

    The reality is we’re going to be facing another VHS/Beta, BlueRay/HD-DVD war as big business fights it out for our living rooms once again. However this is going to be a long and bloody battle and I worry that EVERYBODY will be losers to some degree.

    Technology is finally delivering on decades of promise and as a result, media and consumerism is changing at an utterly dizzying pace.

    Trying to form an opinion on Foxtel/Telstra is like trying to wrap your head around chaos theory. It sounds bad in principal but what if you bring iiNet/FetchTV into consideration. But I currently use my PS3 for couch content and that’s been “tweeked” for ABCiView. Still maybe I just want to watch shows on my iPad/iTunes and read books on my Kobe. These and dozens of other options and innovations are confusing the landscape and making my head hurt.

    Somehow everything I want is suddenly at my fingertips; I’m just dammed if I know how to get it all.

    Maybe I’ll go buy a couple of CD’s and clear my head.

    • Yeah this is pretty much the same problem that I have … I have lots of my own video content on the hard disk of my media centre, but then there is also the Xbox, and what if I want to deliver that stuff on my mobile phone/iPad, do I transcode or do I stream on the fly, how does it get synched etc.

      I am tired of it.

      Eventually, all of this will work together. What we have right now is a dogfight where people are realising that if content is going to become disassociated from carriage (which is what the internet is all about, IP, duh), half of their business models are going to go out the window, and they are panicking.

      I look forward to a model in ten years’ time where not only is all content free (and supported through new and innovative business models), but it can be streamed to whatever platform you want it on from centralised cloud repositories that support open standards and migration between their respective platforms.

      It’s not companies that are important here, or even the content. It’s individuals and how they consume that content that is important.

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