Networks welcome talks around prominence on smart TVs

A govt backed working group sits down to discuss an issue that has been bothering FTA networks.

I’d always thought there were slightly more important things to the industry (quotas on streaming, Children’s TV, accurate EPGs, audio descriptions -to name a few) but yesterday there was some movement around the importance of Free to Air networks being visible on Smart TVs home pages.

This is a concern to networks who fear they are being elbowed out by Streamers.

A government-backed Future of Broadcasting Working Group held its first meeting yesterday and agreed to prioritise the issue of the “prominence” of Australian content on smart TVs and other connected devices.

The Working Group — comprised of free-to-air broadcasters, consumer and broadcast technology bodies, transmission infrastructure providers, and smart television manufacturers – was one of the undertakings in the Morrison Government’s Media Policy Statement issued in February.

Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher, said the Working Group was established so that the free-to-air television sector, the government and other stakeholders can work together to address the issues facing the sector, many of which are driven by rapid technology change and the rise of the internet.

“This issue of the ‘prominence’ – or the availability and visibility – of particular channels on smart TVs is an important one because of its potential to guide consumer decisions,” Minister Fletcher said.

“I look forward to receiving the advice of the Future of Broadcasting Working group on ‘prominence’ and other issues.”

Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair said “Today’s meeting of the Future of Broadcasting Working Group was very constructive. We thank Minister Fletcher for commencing work on this important initiative prior to the election.

“Free TV Broadcasters particularly welcome the prioritisation of the work on prominence of Australian television services on smart TVs and other connected devices. Ensuring that all Australians have access to their free television services is the most urgent regulatory issue for the television sector.

“Audiences are increasingly dependent on smart TV operating systems for how they find their local television services, and we strongly believe that a regulatory solution will be required.

“Australians from all walks of life rely on Free TV services. Regardless of the election outcome, politicians will need to make important decisions on the future of the industry that will affect what Australians can watch on television, and how it can be accessed.”

Seven West Media Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, James Warburton, said: “Seven commends the Government and Minister Fletcher in taking this step to ensure that Australians continue to get free to air services on all their TVs wherever they are in Australia.

“Today’s workshop showed the commitment the Government and Minister Fletcher has to an enduring and thriving Australian TV industry.

“It’s time for the TV manufacturers to commit to ensuring free prominence on all TV sets and not wait for government regulation. This will ensure Australian content remains freely available to all Australians.”

The $7.3 million Television Research and Policy Development Program, will provide government and industry with the information needed to make choices about the future of free-to-air television in Australia, including analysis of:

 prominence issues associated with connected devices;
 the technical capability of Australia’s television receiver fleet and how this is expected to change over time; and
 the attitudes, preferences and habits of Australian television consumers and how they are likely to evolve over coming years.

12 Responses

  1. See how quickly they go from consumer access to “prominence” by which they mean trying to block competition from the streaming services that people actually buy Smart TVs to watch. And what is Freeview for if not this? The commercial FTA networks all belong to and fund it, surely they can pool their knowledge through it, and develop shared streaming and EPG technology and negotiate with manufacturers. Or are they still fighting over who gets which channel number and is listed first? The future is MAFS, with some Football, The Australian Open and Cricket. The idea that Government was ever going to be interested in anything beyond May 21 is amusing. They only want to seem to be interested to stop the networks attacking them.

  2. Interesting that FTA is concerned about their dominance. What about Nine’s stake in Stan and the 10 partnership with CBS/Paramount? Perhaps viewers wouldn’t look for entertainment elsewhere if they found more engaging viewing in FTA.

  3. Vizio in the USA is selling new Smart TV’s with built in advertising, which means that some form of advertisement will pop up along the bottom of your screen when you view linear TV channels, Samsung and LG are looking at following suit, though this could be for their paid sponsored streamers, which is standard now with most Android operating systems. If FTA in Australia want to find loopholes to increase their advertising revenue I’m not sure how that will pass the pub test, all the major channels have a catch up streaming service, so pop up FTA advertising will become an impost for most viewers even if it’s all about promoting their reality TV shows. The government should stop backing these so called working groups, these are multi million dollar companies so they can pay for it themselves.

    1. I noticed last night that we already have this – watching 7 News on Sydney on Catch Up on an Android TV box and when I paused playback and small advert popped up in the screen for Dell (I think!) with a QR code for you to scan to get more info.

      Not sure if that has been “approved” by any regulator or if they’ve just done it, of course.

  4. With web browsers on Android enabled TV’s becoming commonplace now, it should be up to the end viewer if they want to install these services or not.
    I should not have to pay for a manufacturer to have these catch-up services pre-installed. The FTA’s should be paying the manufacturers for this and not be given a free ride.
    Being you cant fast forward ads, I wont be installing or seek to use such BVOD service. Still thankful to have a PVR instead to record off-air and skip the ad breaks which I have done since the VHS days.

  5. Regardless of whatever the viewer preferences are, the public broadcast and Freeview content should come first on Smart TVs. Free-to-air has always had priority status on televisions with inputs and external content being secondary.

  6. Imagine if they fixed all the bugs in their catch-up streaming so ads didn’t play in the wrong place, same ads playing multiple times, shows freezing and never coming back …. I might actually use it regularly.

    1. What, you don’t like watching catch up which is poor quality? Then randomly stops halfway through the program. Requiring you to restart it. Which then when you skip to where you were, it plays 10 minutes of ads to catch up?

Leave a Reply