Foxtel Upset Over Freeview Logie Deal And Telstra BigPond

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Sponsorship of the Logies by Freeview has Foxtel up in arms with the Pay TV industry now looking to boycott the event.
Freeview which is owned by the free to air TV networks including the ABC, SBS, Seven, Nine, Ten, Prime, Southern Cross and WIN is weeks away from introducing a new standard that further restricts fast forward speeds on Freeview branded devices and allows the networks to place advertising on a screen as a consumer fast forwards between TV commercials. Freeview claim that they are sponsoring the Logies because they want to “educate viewers” about the benefits of free-to-view digital TV in Australia.

According to the Australian newspaper, Foxtel’s executive director of television and marketing, Brian Walsh, was outraged by the sponsorship, and the recent marketing push, and wrote to Logies organisers.

Walsh told organisers last week that because the Logies were being sponsored by Freeview, which “opposes Foxtel”, it was “doubtful” any Foxtel executives or producers would be attending the event on May 2 at Crown casino complex in Melbourne. Foxtel is 33% owned by News Corporation who also owns the Australian newspaper.

In response to Freeview’s new technology several set top box manufacturers including Viewsonic, Topfield, Beyonwiz and IceTV will be launching devices that include a remote control that has a “Skip” advertising button.

“The ad skip button doesn’t “fast forward’ it gives instantaneous 30 second forward skips. Some can be programmed to vary the skip time and have more than one skip button – ie one does 2 minutes instantaneously, one then does 10 seconds so as not to overshoot, one can then go back 5 or 10 seconds if you do overshoot.  Easy and intuitive to do although it sounds complicated,” says IceTV’s Managing Director, Colin O’Brien.

Walsh said that he has written to the Logies organisers claiming that their advertising was “aggressive”.

The Australian said “It should really be a celebration of the best in television — irrespective of whether it’s commercial, public broadcasting or subscription — and I think by Freeview taking out a sponsorship it’s sending out a message that the subscription industry is not welcome. I don’t want to suggest they shouldn’t present their position — it’s their job — but to take out a sponsorship on an industry `night of nights’ is very pointed and, looking overall, I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the night.”

 

“Irrespective of what position management take, I would never for one minute want to stop the talent from being part of the night,” Mr Walsh said.

Foxtel who is set to come under pressure as a content war kicks in in Australia, is concerned about recent content deals between Telstra BigPond and TV manufacturers like LG, Samsung and Sony with one manufacturer told that they have “gone over to the dark side” after the Company announced a deal with Telstra for their new IP enabled TV’s which allows content to be accessed from the BigPond site via a widget on a TV screen.

According to sources Telstra is trying to build a network of content partners such as TV manufacturers and set top box makers in an effort to compete with Foxtel, free to air TV stations, cinema and rental Companies who currently have access to Hollywood movies.

By cutting deals with partners Telstra is then in a position to negotiate “minimum guarantees” with Hollywood studio’s to get access to first run content and back movie catalogues. 

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