blog AFL chief Andrew Demetriou has reportedly stuck the boot into Optus in its appeal in the ongoing legal drama over the telco’s TV Now Internet TV recording system, labelling the company “a disgusting organisation” which was undermining the rights of sports companies. The AFL’s own media outlet AFL Media, in an article published late last week, quoted Demetriou as saying:
“They are a disgusting organisation who is acting reprehensibly again and now putting more uncertainty into sports and broadcast rights going forward … I’m really disappointed and disgusted in the comments of their CEO overnight.”
Demetriou’s comments came after Optus last week revealed it would appeal its Federal Court loss over the TV Now service, taking the case to the High Court. At the time, Optus chief executive Paul O’Sullivan said Optus believed the TV Now case was “extremely important in deciding the future for innovation, consumer choice and competition”.
He added: “This is a very important public policy issue that needs to be determined by the highest court in the land, to give clarity to both consumers and the industry. As innovations like TV Now are readily available in other parts of the world, Australia must remain globally competitive and embrace the rapid convergence of technologies as we head towards an NBN world.”
The Optus TV Now service allows customers to have free to air television programs recorded when broadcast, using Optus’ centralised systems, and then played back at the time of a customers’ choosing on their Optus mobile device or PC. This technique is known as “time-shifting”, and attracted the legal ire of the NRL and other groups such as the Australian Football League, which had granted Optus rival Telstra an exclusive licence to make their broadcasts available online.
Frankly, I think both organisations are acting a little immaturely here. Optus can’t have expected that the AFL and NRL would take its cloud-based PVR service lightly, considering their multi-million-dollar deal with Telstra. Football is big money. But the sports codes are also acting in a silly manner; trying to deny Australians from accessing sports content through any medium they wish, and at the time of their choosing, is an exercise in futility. In a few years, when global intellectual property laws are finally re-worked to reflect real-world Internet usage, we will look back on this spat as a bad joke born of a flawed understanding of the digital environment, I would bet.