Foxtel “applauds” govt plans against online piracy

got12Foxtel has welcomed a Government discussion paper outlining recommended steps to thwart online piracy.

Recommendations include ISPS issuing graduated warnings to ­users and throttling internet speeds for persistent offenders.

In a press release titled “Foxtel applauds Government action to stem online piracy” Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein backed the government’s move towards protecting copyright material.

It follows recent press articles that have noted the STV provider’s deal with HBO that ensured it was the only legal outlet for Game of Thrones during its broadcast season, while fans flocked to online piracy.

“Illegal downloading is not just an issue for businesses, it affects the livelihoods of actors, writers, directors, set designers, caterers and everyone else involved in the production of these programs,” Freudenstein said.

“Foxtel acknowledges the comments in the discussion paper that everyone has a part to play in reducing the incidents of online piracy and we look forward to constructively engaging in the discussion of how to give effect to the principles that underpin the Government’s position.”

The Press Release continued:

Foxtel believes the responsibility for combating illegal downloading doesn’t just stop with the government, it’s something that needs to be shouldered by everyone. Government should put in place a regulatory system that encourages legitimate use and discourages illegitimate use of content, while content owners need to make content available quickly and conveniently. ISP’s should also assist by mitigating, to the extent they can, use of their networks for unauthorised purposes. All parties have an obligation to ensure that consumers are educated about the implications of unauthorised use of content and how to get access to legitimate sources of content.

For its part, Foxtel goes to great lengths through its “Express from the US” effort to bring content to subscribers as soon as possible. Moreover, Foxtel has made a massive investment to maximise the number of ways in which people enjoy content by making it available on tablets, mobile phones and other popular devices, while offering flexible, no lock-in contract, subscription via its internet delivered service, Foxtel Play.

Debates in content platforms, both legal and illegal, have been a hot potato in recent months. While unions have stood strong on the protection of copyright material, new platforms are emerging with regularity and the number of Australians by-passing geo-blocking to access Netflix is rising.

While Foxtel did offer a discount for subscriptions during Game of Thrones, the company has also held off screening key titles such as The Leftovers and Penny Dreadful. Not quite everything is “Express from the US.”

Meanwhile ASTRA released a further statement that indicated an Auspoll survey found 60% of respondents agreed that individuals who facilitate piracy should face prosecution. According to the release, only 11% disagreed.

53% believe government should ‘do more’ to prevent television piracy, with only 12% in disagreement.

“The majority of Australians will welcome measures that improve education about piracy and encourage ISPs to take reasonable steps to prevent it,” said ASTRA CEO Andrew Maiden.

“Those who download pirate television content are not only breaking the law, they are undermining investment in local television production and jeopardising the jobs of Australians who work in the sector.”

But while there were no details on how the survey was conducted, it’s unclear if the same respondents would support more legal options to purchase content, such as iTunes.

In my experience that’s what most ordinary Australians want: the ability to legally buy content for their favourite shows at a reasonable price, released in sync with their US premiere. Over time this would surely reduce illegal piracy.

While Foxtel and ASTRA understandably take a strong political stand on content theft, I’m not so sure “applauding the government’s stand” so publicly is going to win them any friends.

That exclusive Game of Thrones deal had as much of an impact as the death of Joffrey.


  1. People download shows because some of them take months or not even shown in Australia
    but with Game of Thrones and True Blood shown on Foxtels Showcase channel which is part of the movies package many people can’t afford the movie pack if Showcase was a channel that you could purchase with the basic package Foxtel would have more subscribes as the did do it with the Syfi channel
    but back to downloading shows I would say that at least 45% of downloaders will purchase Dvds and Blu-Rays for there collections once released ask any ezydvd or jb hi-fi as they can’t keep up with the demand

  2. Before you lot get on your high horses over this one.

    The laws have to get through the parliament, and in this case will be tested in the High Court of Australia. Similar laws in the past have failed.

    Look at the case between 34 studios V’s Iinet.

    I am more than happy to come out of retirement and defend the people on the street.

  3. oceanographer

    Australian based actors should be more worried about limited Australian drama on tv than illegal downloads. Australian shows are nowhere near amongst the top downloaded shows in the country so I don’t see the issue. ‘ISPS issuing graduated warnings to ­users and throttling internet speeds for persistent offenders’ isn’t going to deter people if any from downloading. If thats the best they can do they may as well give up now.

  4. Any evidence that piracy effects local revenue at all? The livelihood of Australian actors?

    Most Australian TV can’t be pirated because it is broadcast and streamed by FTA for free before it can be pirated. And does anyone watch Australian movies anymore, let alone bother to try and find illegal copies of them?

    The major losers are US production houses who distribute content after it screens in the US into other markets. They will get lower prices and sales in those markets. The less profit they make the less they have to pay actors and crew, but they are known for contracts that screw over actors not handing them bonuses with OS sales go well.

  5. Why wouldn’t 20th Century Fox like the Government spending taxpayer money and forcing competitors to spend money on something that increases their profits?

    But as Turnbull said he expects to see some competition and prices similar to OS markets first.

    Yes it is theft but it is isn’t the same as stealing an actual DVD. There you take the DVD and leave the publisher and shop to foot all the production, transport and storage costs.

    If you steal a digital copy all they lose is one digital sale if you were going to buy it, and nothing if you were not going to watch it otherwise. This is why HBO are untroubled by piracy of GOT as long as their subscription numbers hold up.

  6. We pay $130 per month for Foxtel, and get more terrific programs and movies than we have time to watch.
    However, I’m not happy paying for product when there are ads placed within programs, and/or filthy great big watermarks polluting the screen. (That’s why we no longer watch FTA!)
    Recently on the Discovery channel there was a 6-parter called Klondike, starring Richard Madden (Robb Stark from GoT).
    It was good, but we only watched the first two. The huge watermark “Discovery” was at the top of the screen all the time, and then there were the ads.
    In one hour there were 4 ad breaks of over 4 minutes each. Outrageous! Unbearable!
    If there was another means of getting a clean copy of this program, I’d certainly be interested!

  7. Craig, Foxtel negotiated a contract that prevented many Australians from watch Game of Thrines for 12 or so weeks. Who’s going to wait three months to get it on iTunes, or google play, or the other services we kind of sort of have available here?

    Many who had money to burn on content have turned to Channel BT because of availability issues.

    Foxtel trying to big up themselves about fast tracking is silly. It’s 2014, we expect content delivery to be quicker. You can get HD (proper 1080HD rather than the 720 on Australian TV), ad free content within an hour of US telecast.

    Match it, and you’ve got a viable system. Make it easier to get content, less people will pirate. Making it harder won’t stop most. VPN, proxy server. Five minutes with Google and my Gran would be pirating her stories…

  8. I thought the government’s role was to champion the rights of the people, not of the private sector. I’d rather see legislation targeting excessive price gouging before we see legislation that supports it.

  9. once-upon-a-time

    How ironic but predictable, when Foxtel complains about piracy, perhaps they should look at their own corporation practices and contracted subscriptions etc. before complaining about ‘Pirates’, because what Australian Subscribers get for their $$$$$ must come pretty close to the same definition.

    In today’s modern lingo perhaps ‘ Vested Interests’ is the new ‘Pirate’

  10. To be fair Foxtel has done more in recent history to provide fast tracked shows so people can legally watch them. There is no way every show can be on FTA so in some for you are going to pay for your viewing. And unlike FTA when Foxtel starts airing something it usually stays on until it runs its course. Plus with multiply screenings and their PVR its easier than ever to see the shows you want, when you want too.

  11. I’d like to see anti-piracy laws also make rulings on content pricing, availability, and exclusivity… there’s that old adage about an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff, or the fence at the top to prevent the accidents. Prevention is better than punishment, surely?

    I’m also wondering whether the ACCC should be involved in the pay TV rip off scheme. As a consumer, the price of US TV shows locked up by Foxtel far outstrips what an identical consumer in the US, UK, and Europe would pay even accoutning for inflation. There needs to be an overhaul on all of these outdated pricing models for digital content that were only relevant before everything became availabe online.

  12. I wish the government would go back to the detailed proposals set out by the Australian Law Reform Commission, regarding copyright reform in the digital economy. The ALRC came up with some excellent proposals. Now we’re back to only doing Hollywood’s bidding, using the same old arguments.

    Politics involves dancing around with a whole lot of others and all of this, at least for now, might only amount to a bit of dressing to appease the Americans. But what I want, right now, is someone with the balls to start implementing the changes suggested by the ALRC.

    On this issue, let’s bloody well move this country along!

  13. of course they would be, Rupert is behind all of this because Tony has to pay him back for getting him in.

    To think that internet piracy is this governments top priority over the other mess is beyond me. and do you notice they are specifically mentioning television not movies? because no one downloads Australian television cause its freely available and first played here. I dont see how that is affecting Australian’s economy?

    I would rather pay for TV shows I want to watch not $100 a month for channels I dont even watch and even extra for the popular shows littered with ads!

    Netflix is the only option and because of the NBN being stopped (another Murdoch move) it will never be as fast as we want it.

  14. “It affects the livelihoods of actors, writers, directors, set designers, caterers and everyone else involved in the production of these programs” – any proof?

    Not heard of a single show being axed due to piracy – and movies flop because they’re crap, not because they’re pirated. All the evidence shows that those who pirate the most tend to buy the most – they just quite naturally want to try before they buy.

    Give people an accessible way to buy the content legally and they will – as Sky have done in the UK meaning you could watch the last series of Game of Thrones legally for £15 thanks to monthly subscriptions (for 10 entertainment channels and a host of on demand stuff) to Now TV rather than having to commit to a £300+ annual contract just to watch one show.

  15. Of course they ‘applaud’ it – they wrote the policy.

    Instead of the government bashing us over the head for finding other means of viewing content denied to us in a timely manner, how about updating the copyright laws to a ‘use it or lose it’ policy?

    Australian publishers lose copyright on overseas titles that aren’t made available within days – why are Oz TV networks such a protected species?

  16. jezza the first original one

    yeah go ahead foxtel…..make my day…..a vpn and netflix subscription is a fraction of what you want us to pay you

  17. So Foxtel must also agree with the first or second sentence which says there is a content ‘price’ and ‘availability’ problem in Australia too?

    I’m sure they’ll be quite happy to fix that, yeah?

    Yeah, right.

  18. Certain news outlets with a vested interest are filing stories about the ‘crackdowns’ daily, but the truth within the stories is that it is all still in progress and how much effect any legislation will have in practice remains to be seen. Never miss an opportunity to drum up some business for foxtel through and it’s nice they return the favour. Hmmmmm!

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