Would Australians pay for iview?

This week at Senate Estimates hearings questions about iview were raised.

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked ABC if anyone from government had ever raised with you the notion of a paywall?

ABC Chief Financial Officer Louise Higgins said no-one had raised it with her personally.

Asked if she thought the public would pay to access iview, Higgins rejected the idea.

“I would hope we would all agree it would be a very disappointing outcome if we ever reached that point. Public service broadcasting is there for all Australians. I think we have been in a wonderful position, that we have been funded by the government to ensure that continues, and it’s got that access for all Australians, and I would really hope that would continue,” she said.

But Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told the Senator, the only person raising the idea was Hanson-Young herself.

“And those in commercial broadcasting,” she replied.

“Let me say they haven’t put that to me,” Fifield countered.

“I did ask you to rule it out earlier today,” Hanson-Young reminded him.

Fifield said it was a matter for ABC.

In the past there were suggestions that ABC would charge for access to its archival library of content, but nothing has emerged.

The ABC and SBS are facing a competitive neutrality inquiry over whether they have an advantage over commercial broadcasters.


  1. Only a politician would suggest making us pay multiple times for the same product. We let them get away with this on taxation. If only I had a solar powered electric car!

  2. It’d be good to seem them stop using Flash on iView. For those of us in the lucky position where it would be viable (ie, with decent bandwidth and data allowances), HD would be good.

    I can imagine the ABC using the idea of a paywall as a bargaining chip in funding negotiations, including in trying to get the funding freeze (not a cut) lifted. I suspect they’d be well aware the public would be not wear the idea of paying for something their taxes already fund.

  3. it would be equivalent to double taxing the tax payer .i don’t mind paying for the ABC it provides a great service it is something that the right wing extremists in this country like Bolt and Jones and news limited would suggest so well done to the greens for bringing this up becuase I wouldn’t put it past this govt if push came to shove by news limited and Murdoch yet there is so much wastage by the govt it gifted news limited thirty million for no apparent reason to foxtel last year but the cuts for the ABc keep coming .

    • Harshreality

      Take off your extreme left wing glasses and put your hands in your pocket — if it is good enough for Australians to pay for views such as Bolt and Jones (as you mentioned) why should those who cannot stand the vile leftist junk of the ABC/SBS be expected to subsidize your viewing preference.

      Firstly a “struggling ABC” would not be paying out bonuses to their staff – what is the KPI exactly? How much you verbally bash Bolt, Israel, Christians, Conservatives or Hanson in a year?

      As for Senator Hanson-Young what is she on? 200k+ yet on a payment plan to repay money she was not entitled to and not knowing the history of our country a few days back when she was ranting.

    • The minister clearly stated no one had approached him with the idea.

      The $30 million was to Fox Sports, which has since merged with Foxtel, to increase coverage of womens sport (clearly stated in that budget). There has been a substantial increase in womens sport on Fox Sports as a result.

      • If that’s true then it’s great for women’s sport but not so great to have taxes pay for coverage that 70% of households can’t access, or not without paying significant subscription fees to Foxtel.

        If that $30m went to ABC or SBS they could cover those sports (and probably with change to spare) and give them 100% coverage of Australians which is surely more in line with the objective, to get more people access to watch women’s sport.

        As for iview, not totally against paying a fee for back catalogue stuff (say anything over 2 years) but anything current I think should be fee free.

        • If true? On what the money was for – easy enough to look at the budget papers, or look back at the extensive media coverage at the time; on the increase in sport – easy enough to find (Google & Bing are your friends)

          On the separate question of Foxtel vs ABC/SBS, can’t find whether any said they were interested or not, or would have the capacity to do it (both logistically and available space in their schedules). Can’t recall whether the commercial FTA networks were interested or considered either. It would be interesting to know.

          • “On what the money was for – easy enough to look at the budget papers, or look back at the extensive media coverage at the time”

            Since, as you claim, it is easy to double-check your statements, a tip for anybody doing it: its in the 2017 Budget (as part of the “media reform package”), not this years.

            And the “extensive media coverage” then and since is mostly about how the Government refuses to release any details confirming the $30 million handout to Fox Sports is to be used for women’s sport – saying only they’re “Cabinet documents, exempt under section 34 of the [FOI] Act”.

            So the “truth” is not easy to find…

          • To be clear – I didn’t mention which budget (it’s in the 2017/18) budget. The funds are allocated over 4 years at $7.5 million per year; the budget states what they were for; as did the ensuing media coverage. There is a lack of detail, which the media coverage highlighted, but nevertheless, the purpose was stated. All of this is very easy to find. The original ‘no apparent reason’ claim was incorrect.

          • (In reply to JRS @ 4:54pm) To be specific: in 2017 Budget Paper No 2, it says “$30.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television, including women’s sports, niche sports, and sports with a high level of community involvement and participation”.

            However, in the year since then, they have actively blocked all attempts by anybody to find out if the funding allocation was tied to those purposes – or if that was just a convenient cover story. It’s suspicious, since they also – in other statements before and after the budget – seemed to suggest it was meant, at least in part, to compensate pay TV for the reduction in FTA licence fees.

          • 1. Original statement on here from a poster was “gifted news limited thirty million for no apparent reason to foxtel last year” – as I have pointed out, that statement is incorrect. The money had a purpose, which was stated in the budget and in the media coverage of that budget and the money was to Fox Sports, not Foxtel (the two companies have since merged last month).
            2. The increase in programming of certain sports, as outlined in the link I provided is evidence of the money being used for the stated purpose.
            3. Speculation on it being a ‘cover story’ for compensating for the reduction in FTA licence fees is ‘interesting’. Again, the money is to Fox Sports, not Foxtel (since merged). Fox Sports revenue is lumped in with Australian New Network (Sky News) in Newscorp financial reports – combined revenue is around $US500 million per year, so $AU7.5 million per year out of that…

  4. Maev....Sydney

    I am afraid…being as old as dirt…I would not… 🙁
    I love iview and On Demand…but if I had to pay….I would be watching less TV and more youtube…

  5. The only problem with the excellent iView service is that it (at least the main ABC channel) is not in HD. ABC promised last year that this channel would become available in HD but it never happened. Sadly, with the Coalition’s vindictive and unexpected recent $80m cut to ABC finances the prospect of HD coming to iView is even further down the track.

  6. ABC iView should always be free as we already pay for the ABC through taxes. But would happily pay for 9now, 7plus and SBS on demand if it meant having no ads – 7’s the worst for ads – watching The Good Doctor on it once (due to failed recording) and seemed there were more ads there there are on live TV. Ideally two options – monthly fee or pay per view for occasional users like me.

  7. I tended to recorded everything (ABC and commercial channels) on my PVR and then watch it at my leisure. However over the last 6 months I have been house sitting and thus watching either live or on catch-up. The more you use catch up the more you realise this is the way to go. Easy to use, still watch it when you want to watch it, comes with some recommendations that you may or may not like and you don’t have to record 30 mins past the nominated finish time just in case they are running late.

    Given that Netflix is $10 a month and has a much wider contents library, I don’t think they could charge more than $2 to $5 pm. For me I think SBS on Demand is a steal at $0pm.

    • Maev....Sydney

      I watch most things….at my leisure…on catch up….Watching live …often finds me dozing off in the middle…*G*….I am right now binging on the series Kiri on iview…..

  8. We pay for the ABC with our taxes. It’s content should therefore be freely available to all.
    It’s disturbing to hear that even the Greens are sniffing around alternate ways of generating funding, rather than supporting the notion that the ABC is a valued service that is deserving of its public funding – and that the current government attempts shred the organisation are anathema to most voters (as recent surveys have reinforced).

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