EXCLUSIVE: On the eve of the launch of Freeview in Australia by free to air TV stations, a director at Australias largest consumer electronics retailer Harvey Norman has slammed the launch claiming that the concept of Freeview is irrelevant and of “no value” to consumers
“We will support it but I just don’t know where the value is” said David Ackery the General Manager of Electrical at Harvey Norman. “We have spoken to the likes of Panasonic, LG and Sony and they are equally confused. We will not be turning up to Monday’s launch especially as it is being held in a Dick Smith store which is a really stupid decision, considering that Freeview is looking to several retailers to support them” he added.
“Freeview is a bunch of free to air TV stations with a vested interest. At this stage there is no value to owning a Freeview device as it really delivers nothing to a set top box or a TV other than additional costs. Most vendors now have HD TV’s and most vendors and set top box manufacturers can deliver an EPG service”.
Harvey Norman is one of the largest advertisers on free to air TV in Australia.
Also having a go at Freeview is the CEO of the Digital Products Group who distributes the Beyonwiz digital set top box.
He claims that Freeview should pay the license fee for the use of the copyrighted Macrovision grids, used in their proposed electronic program guide and not set top box and HD televisions manufacturers.
Currently Freeview Australia is negotiating royalty payments with Macrovision, a US company, with Freeview CEO Robin Parkes telling ChannelNews exclusively earlier this week that Australian distributors and manufacturers of Freeview approved products will have to pay a fee between $4.00 and $5.00 per device they import.
Jai Kemp the CEO of DPG said “Manufacturers and distributors of Freeview approved boxes should not be forced to pay a royalty fee. We currently have an EPG and so do several TV manufacturers who are set to launch Freeview approved products. If Freeview want to use the Macrovision template they should be the ones paying for it.”
The new Beyonwiz Freeview set top boxes that are set to be sold exclusively through Harvey Norman for the next 3 months will come with a 320 and 500GB hard drive and sell for $749 and $849 respectively.
They include a new MPEG4 chipset that Kemp claims ads over $50 to the cost of a Freeview certified digital set top box.