Optus just can’t shut the AFL up.
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That’s the outcome from yesterday’s Federal court decision, which ruled Australia’s No. 2 telco is unable to prevent enraged AFL boss, Andrew Demetriou, from calling Optus TV Now mobile app “akin to stealing.”
The Australian Football League boss declared war on Optus’ mobile service, which records free-to-air content and replays it to smartphones just minutes after live broadcasts – jeopardising Telstra’s exclusive million dollar content deals with both the NRL and AFL.
Optus claimed Demetriou’s comments were “misleading” and “deceptive.”
Justice Richard Edmonds dismissed Optus’ legal bid to prevent the AFL boss from bagging its service publicly in a Federal Court ruling yesterday, branding Demetriou statements “nothing more than a vernacular or shorthand description of what Optus is incontrovertibly doing.”
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“It also includes the fact that Optus does not pay anything to the AFL for the contents that Optus makes available for its own commercial gain to its customers.”
Telstra paid $153m to the AFL in a six year content rights deal in place until 2016, while Optus don’t pay either sporting organisations a penny.
The comments were “clearly a statement of Mr Demetriou’s opinion and, again, was honestly held,” said Justice Edmonds and dismissed claims they were misleading.
This latest ruling follows an earlier legal bid by both sporting bodies and Telstra to prevent Optus from continuing to sell the service to mobile users, which the trio lost earlier this month, with Justice Steven Raresand ruling TVNow did not breach copyright laws.
And yesterday, Demetriou resumed his scathing attack on Singapore owned telco and pledged to continue to criticise Optus as long as it continued to flog the mobile service, reports AAP.
“If you think that it’s a good thing for sports to invest millions of dollars in their content, only for someone to come along and not pay for it … I find that abhorrent.”
And he vowed to fight the service to “protect what is rightfully ours,” he warned.
“Make no mistake, we will explore every avenue with the other sports, through our legal means and political means, to protect what is rightfully ours.”
The AFL has already appealed this months court ruling by Justice Raresand and a hearing has been set down for April 18.
Optus said yesterday it was “disappointed with the outcome but we are pleased that the judge has found that claims made by the AFL’s CEO regarding the Optus TV Now service are “factually untrue” given Optus’ recent success in the courts.”
“We support reasoned and rational debate on the issues arising from our Optus TV Now recording service but we will protect our reputation from incorrect and sensationalist comments made in relation to this case,” a company spokesperson added.
The telco also said it is reviewing the decision and considering all options including an appeal.