ASTRA Conference: wrap

There are several articles in newspapers today following yesterday’s ASTRA Conference in Sydney.

Here is a summary of some of the speeches given:

Foxtel CEO Kim Williams took a swipe at ABC’s plans for a 24 hour News channel.

“The charter actually requires of the ABC that it take account of the broadcasting landscape and that it act in a complimentary sense with that landscape,” he said.

“These things require accountability – not just because it is frustrating to me, but because it requires accountability at law.”

You can read more at the Sydney Morning Herald. The newspaper also has an article written by Williams today in which he trumpets Foxtel’s digital upgrades:

“We offered Australians what they want. Greater choice and control: with more than 100 channels, movies on near demand and a rich array of interactive features. And all of this is accessible through a simple and intuitive electronic programming guide, or as they say in the biz an ”EPG”.”

SMH also quotes ASTRA Chairman Steve Bracks speaking out on the Anti-Siphoning List review.

“The Productivity Commission said that the current list was overly burdensome, anti-competitive, had a negative impact on sporting bodies, had limited effectiveness and was long compared to similar lists overseas,” he said.

“In fact, and this is not a record list that Australia should be proud of at all, it is the longest anti-siphoning list in the world.”

“ASTRA simply wants, in a balanced way, that the list should be reformed so that events on the old networks that they do not show should be taken off.”

More on that one here.

The Herald Sun quotes Survivor producer Mark Burnett via his satellite interview, where he spoke about ‘feelgood’ television.

“Advertisers won’t let their brands on negative attack-type programming. I’ve never done that kind of programming and never will.

“I don’t think it makes any sense – why would advertisers support it? No one’s going to put a show on that advertisers won’t embrace.”

Read more on that one here.

Finally, Mike Fries from Liberty Global International compared international practice with what occurs in the Australian market.

“I’ve noticed that 80 key subscription television programs have been sold on to Australian free to air networks over the past five years. This is unheard of in markets like the US and Europe – imagine Sex & the City or The Sopranos without the HBO logo at the end. Particularly in a newer market with 30% penetration where differentiation is key, local channels are devaluing their brands by letting free to air networks take the glory for their hard-earned programming.”

He also described a new product being developed by LGI, Horizon, which was merging the worlds of online content and subscription television.

“Horizon is the future of entertainment for consumers in Europe. You’ll have one box, one remote and one electronic programme guide acting as a gateway for all of your entertainment choices. We’re very much looking forward to this next generation of content delivery, and as we speak, Austar is working on similar products.”


  1. Of course Williams is going to complain about ABC competing with Foxtel’s various news providers, but he is right in identifying ABC’s appalling failure in supporting Australian drama. Having the occasional short series (Bed of Rose, Dirt Game…etc ) every few months is like throwing viewers a bone insulting one at that. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that at least OneAustralian drama series or telemovie etc might be on air every week of the year ? This is not to even mention a discussion as to the tepid, middle aged, middle of the road nature of these and the few other ABC dramas( East of Everything !).
    What have they done with all the $$ they secured for Australian drama ? It’s not even in sight….. Pathetic. And don’t even start me on what they have done to Arts programming on ABC TV.
    Meanwhile they want more news channels……

  2. It’s certainly a great point where it’s mentioned about 80 different programs,also being shown on free to air,that are from the Pay TV market.Is that fair of course not.That’s why alot of these issues need to be sorted

  3. An ABC 24 hour news channel would be cool and could work, but the ABC would probably need to get federal legislation passed in the Senate (that’s likely to face opposition from some and will get stalled amidst a lot of initial red tape and bickering) allowing them to accept corporate sponsorship and ads on this channel. The government isn’t going to give them a blank 100 mill cheque to start it, so if they can get permission to screen ads on their 3 other ABC channels
    (preferably at the start and end of shows only), that’d also help.

  4. Is Mark Burnett serious. He’s never done “attack style programming”! Really? All his shows have an element of that. I love Survivor but it’s been so successful because it frequently shows the manipulative, ruthless side of people. Take that away to make it “feel good” and he wouldn’t have the champagne flowing over 20 seasons.

  5. I take my hat off to the cable industry and Foxtel in particular. They really have done some fantastic stuff over the last few years and left the free to air networks for dead when it comes to technology and multi channels.

    But Kim Williams and the cable biz need to shut up about ABC’s new news channel – and questioning whether it goes against ABC’s charter and how they are going to fund it.

    I think it’s nothing short of fantastic that Oz is about to have a commercial free FTA 24/7 un-biased news network avail to all Australians for free. Who could argue against such a thing?

    65% of Australians don’t have Sky News, and thus do not have a 24/7 news channel. ABC is providing a service for the vast majority of Australians that currently do not have a service.

    And 100% of Australians don’t have access to a quality 24/7 news network. Sky News is a joke and pathetic beyond belief. It’s embrassing that that is the best we currently have.

    Why is Sky News and Foxtel so scared of some competition? If they were confident in their product they would not be attacking ABC. If they had a world class product they would be saying “We welcome the competition – and may the best channel win”. But they just keep attacking. They must be very insecure about Sky News. And understandably so!

    Hopefully soon they will channel all this energy into turning Sky into a half decent product. And then we will have 2 competing quality 24 hour news channels. Rather than none, which is what we have now.

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