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Foxtel $10 HD Sting Nets Millions Despite HD Content Coming Free

By David Richards | Wednesday | 22/05/2013

Foxtel and their 50% partner Telstra could be netting up to $18M a month or $216M A year by charging owners of a Foxtel HD box $10 for the privilege of getting HD content despite the fact that most content is shot in HD, their iQ set top box is HD enabled along with most flat panel TV's.

Neither Foxtel nor Telstra have been able to explain what the $10 additional HD charge is for other than ad additional revenue earner for the pay TV network. Currently Foxtel has 2.27 million subscribers, 80% now have an iQ Foxtel HD set top box. 

The monthly $10 HD fee is charged across all of their packages including the sports package, premium package as well as their basic package.
Around the world organisations like Sky in the UK or Dish in the USA are not charging an additional fee on top of their monthly subscription charge for the privilege of getting access to HD channels, nor are they charging an additional $75 for an HD set top box. 

Foxtel, who charge $122 for their premium package, do not disclose the additional $10 fee on the front page of their premium package offer, they don't even disclose it on the second page where consumers are hit $75 for their HD set top box along with $25 a month for delivering a second room. 

It is not till a pop up appears that consumers are told that they will be charged $10 for HD content which on other pay TV networks around the world is free.

The pop up box states 'Want to get HD channels too?'

You've chosen our iQHD box, but not our HD channels. Want to add them for just $10 extra per month to get crisp, High Definition (HD) picture quality?

HD channels included in the Foxtel Platinum HD Package include LifeStyle, HDFOX8, HDSoHo, HDFX HDDiscovery HDNat Geo HDFOX SPORTS HDFOX SPORTS 2 HDFOX SPORTS 3 HDFOX FOOTY HDESPN HDESPN2 HDSPEED HDPremiere HDshowcase HDFamily HD Action/Adventure HDComedy HDDrama/Romance HDThriller/Crime HDMasterpiece HDA&E HDBBC Knowledge HDNat Geo Wild HDUKTV and HDMTV Live HD.

They then say that users will need an HD-capable TV set, as well as a FOXTEL HD set top box, to enjoy their HD programming.

A BBC spokesperson said that all BBC Sport and Entertainment programs are delivered to third party networks as Full HD content, they said that there is no additional cost for HD content.

Fox Sport content is also shot in Full HD. 

Pace, who makes the Foxtel HD set top box, said that all of the IQ boxes delivered to Foxtel are HD enabled with a Full HD processor built into the box at no extra cost. 

Currently Foxtel, News Ltd. who own the other 50% of the pay TV network and Telstra are moving to lock down content so that Australians are forced to pay for content in the future. Recently they snared the bulk of BBC content from the ABC with Australians now forced to pay for the privilege of watching shows such as Silent and The Thick Of It.

Ben Goldsmith a Senior Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology said recently that the ABC's 50-year TV partnership with the BBC is at breaking point after Foxtel snared the BBC content.

Under the new deal Foxtel will host a new BBC channel that will screen first-run, "fast-tracked" British programming.

The deal between Foxtel and the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, has major implications not only for the two partners, but also for the ABC and potentially for Australian screen content.

ABC1 Controller Brendan Dahill said that the ABC was "completely blindsided" by the Foxtel announcement. "We had not been told that it was happening, and we were not invited to counter," Dahill told ABC Sydney radio.

He said that Foxtel subscribers can expect to pay an additional fee for the premium, first-run BBC drama, comedy and lifestyle productions that will screen on a new, BBC-branded Foxtel channel. In return, they are promised "fast-tracked" programs, available within hours of their first screening in the UK. Free-to-air viewers will have to wait for at least a year to see the same programs.

Foxtel and BBC Worldwide said that a new channel, BBC HD, would screen in Australia. It was the first high definition BBC channel broadcast outside the UK.

Goldsmith said that Foxtel is banking on the BBC deal giving a much-needed boost to subscriber numbers. Subscriptions have hovered at around 30% of Australian households for some time. As the new BBC channel will be ad-free, new subscriptions will be vital for Foxtel to recoup its unspecified outlay.

Viewers who do not wish to take out a full Foxtel subscription may be able to view these programs via the BBC's iPlayer app. Subscription is currently A$9.49 per month, or A$89.99 per year - considerably more than subscriptions in other countries.

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