Have The TV Networks Done A Deal To Deliver Full EPG?

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Are the TV networks and Foxtel in Australia colluding to deliver an EPG service at the expense of IceTV which is currently being sued by Channel Nine in the Federal Court?

Statements made yesterday by both the Nine Network and Channel Seven following the announcement that the Seven Media Group are set to launch the TiVo set top box would indicate that talks are well advanced among networks to deliver a service.

Bridget Godwin, head of policy and regulatory at the Seven Network, said the free-to-air TV industry supported the idea of an industry-wide EPG, and she was confident that one was “on the way”.

Annabelle Gibson Head of Communications for Nine said: “We support the concept of an industry-wide EPG and we look forward to working with other participants in the industry to develop this further.”

For Nine the statement goes against everything that the Nine Network has argued in the Federal Court in the case against Ice TV which has waited more than 7 months for Federal Court Judge Justice Annabelle Bennett to rule in the case.

 


If the TV Networks are colluding and I have no evidence of this, there may well be a case for Ice TV to call in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as the creation of an EPG service by the Networks and Foxtel could  put Ice TV out of business.  However if the TV networks on sell the EPG service via a collective entity to other set top box manufacturers or media centre builders there could be a case against them.

Colin O’Brien the principle investor in Ice TV claims that he introduced the Seven Media Group to TiVo when he met with Seven executives Ryan Stokes and the former head of Yahoo Rohn Lund last year to talk about the Ice TV service.

Said O’Brien “The statement today by a senior Nine Network executive and a Seven Network executive smack of collusion.  The Nine Network statement is even more amazing as the Network is spending thousands trying to wipe us off the EPG landscape.  On one hand they don’t want us in the market while on the other they say we support the concept of an industry-wide EPG and we look forward to working with other participants in the industry to develop this further.”

 

Who are the other participants, the other networks who have a lot to benefit from taking out Ice TV or is a deal already in place only to be rolled out when Foxtel launch their new set top box and IQ offering?

Only a few weeks ago 4Square Media was told by senior Foxtel executives that they were close to finalizing a deal to provide an EPG service across all free to air network channels.

The outcome of the court case is critical to the Australian public as Australia is very much a backward nation when it comes to EPG technology due to the likes of Channel Nine, who are going to great lengths to force consumers to watch TV commercials.

In Europe and the USA most free to air TV stations have made their stations available for recording via an EPG enabled device such as a media centre. Nine is suing IceTV for breach of copyright in the Federal Court over the sale of program guides that allow viewers to record shows and avoid watching commercials.

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