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Foxtel has moved to an online electronic programming system that lets consumers record programs to their Foxtel IQ system from anywhere in the world.

However they have admitted that it will be at least 18 months before we see a new Foxtel set top box capable of streaming high definition content.

Foxtel has also lifted restrictions on their IQ system by opening up a previously locked 60GB of hard disc space that will be now be used for a new on demand content service. This service will allow certain programs to be watched, paused and re-wound at the customer’s wish. It will have no additional charge, as long as the customer subscribes to the channel broadcasting the program.

Foxtel CEO Kim Williams has also admitted that he is no closer to cutting a deal with free to air networks Seven & Ten for customers using the Foxtel satellite server which represents 50% of all Foxtel customers. “We’ve answered every contractual issue with them I believe, so the ball is in their court,” he said. 

The new online EPG will allow customers to login to the service using their account details and then view a complete list of channels and programs over a 30 day period. Foxtel IQ customers will also have the option of being able to remotely record their favourite programs using a drag and drop function.

The web guide has further features such as an advanced search function which allows you to search by keyword to find out when a particular program is airing. Williams also said that by March next year any 3G mobile phone user will be able to have access to this service also. A mobile TV service will also offer 12 channels of Foxtel available to view on a compatible mobile phone for $12 a month.

In line with its ‘Mobile TV’ campaign, Foxtel has also cut a deal with Virgin Blue which will deliver 24 channels of Foxtel live to all planes by this time next year.

The next-generation IQ boxes will be a “fusion of broadcast and broadband”, Williams says, with the first technical trials starting in January, with a view to launch in 12 – 18 months.

Foxtel also announced that it is on track for the analogue switch-off, stating there will be a range of incentives to get remaining analogue customers to convert by January 2007. A number of analogue channels will be removed on December 1st as part of this scheme.

The launch of the new services will be complemented by a host of content including the premiers of Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire as well as the new TV show Dangerous made by the producers of Love My Way. Customers can also expect a new channel – called Sci-Fi as well as sporting events such as Ashes highlights and Australian Open 2007 on the sports channel.

 

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