“This might be a great deal for TV manufacturers, but it’s a terrible deal for Australians”

Free to Air broadcasters step up their campaign over Prominence of apps on Smart TVs, pushing back against "Big Tech."

Free TV Australia is stepping up its campaign in the tussle over Prominence of free local television services on connected TVs.

This follows the Subscription TV sector arguing the Government “could take control of what and how these Australians watch their TVs,” along with advertisements and articles in Murdoch press.

But Free TV, whose members include Seven, Nine and 10, have the support of ABC and SBS in their push for prominent placement of apps on new television sets.

Their campaign, “Don’t Let Big Tech Take Your Free Away”, drives home the argument global deals between TV manufacturers and international streaming giants have given global subscription services the most prominent positions on home screens and remote controls.

They argue this makes local TV services are difficult or sometimes impossible to find.

There are also reports Free TV Australia sent a legal notice to Foxtel CEO and chair of ASTRA Patrick Delany demanding action over an advertising campaign run by ASTRA, alleging their campaign is“false and misleading”. It has asked for the campaign’s removal alongside a published correction on the claims made. Lawyers  acting on behalf of Foxtel and ASTRA, have rejected the claim.

Free TV channels are asking the Federal Government to introduce new laws that require manufacturers to provide free of charge:

  • Access to all TV channels provided by Australia’s free local networks,
  • Installation of all local TV apps in the first positions on home screens, and
  • Free local TV content first in search results and recommendations.

Free TV Australia CEO, Bridget Fair, said,“Free local TV services bring our communities together – it doesn’t matter where we live, or how much we earn, free TV entertains, informs and unites all Australians.

“Free local TV services are there for Australians when the chips are down. They bring us together for our greatest sporting moments, provide trusted news and current affairs and keep us safe with critical emergency warnings and updates in times of crisis. They also provide thousands of hours of Australian drama, documentary and entertainment programming watched by millions every single day.

“But these local TV services are disappearing before our eyes. The TV manufacturers are now demanding free local TV services pay large amounts – up to 30 per cent of their revenue – to even be included on their screens or in the app store. That money would come directly out of Australian content.”

Free TV argues that would mean it would be increasingly difficult to find free to air channels on TVs going forward.

“Pay TV providers want you to pay. They want you to pay for content that is often available free on free to air channels and their free corresponding apps. This might be a great deal for TV manufacturers, but it’s a terrible deal for Australians who just want to get their trusted local news services, cheer on their footy team or sit back and enjoy the thousands of hours of great local entertainment and drama programming, all available for free to every Australian,” she said.

“Claims by some pay TV providers that the Government is trying to control your viewing or limit search results are utterly misleading. This whole issue is about putting the viewer in full control, not being served up incomplete viewing choices based on who has paid the most money to be in the line-up.

“Free TV has never sought a prominence framework that locks in apps on the home screen. Viewers should be given a full choice of all services available to them, both free and paid, and then be able to choose which ones they want to watch. That is what a prominence framework will do – give the consumer the choice,” said Ms Fair.


Should Free to Air TV be given prominence on Smart TV screens?

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6 Responses

  1. I don’t know why this is an issue,because with most new smart tvs,as well as appletv and googletv,the free to air apps are featured prominently,and you can easily move them to the front of the list if you want to.

  2. A storm in a teacup. Let the viewers decide. We all re-arrange the icons on our phones and PC’s to suit our tastes, why not on our TV’s? Why do I have to press a button 30+ times to find a show on iView? Give the show a unique icon on the main screen. The same applies to those 100+ ad-supported channels. Let’s have a Baywatch icon, a Friends icon, a Poirot icon, etc. Use folders and sub-folders to group similar shows. User friendly may not be to the Networks liking but they are becoming redundant.

  3. This is all about Hubbl. Foxtel are about to start leasing Smart TVs instead of antiquated STBs to subscribers. It is reasonable that live FTA and catch up services are available on this TV; they are the basic functionality people expect from a TV. It is not reasonable that 27 channels of FTA crap, most of them duplicates, are taking up all the space on your TV. Nor is it reasonable that 10 year old repeats of NCIS or Vera are going to be sitting on the top of you recommendations, above the Sporting Channels that you got the Hubbl TV to watch. The ALP is going along with this even though 94% of the population are against it because ever since Murdoch and Packer sabotaged Keating Government Satellite system they’s been trying to destroy Murdoch any way they can for 30 years. FTA obviously believes that even though they are getting billions in free spectrum, half the costs are being picked up taxpayers they can no longer give their TV away without this rent seeking.

    1. Having established its dominance in the cheap streaming device market, Amazon is now demanding 30% of ad revenue from TV network apps. You can be sure other streaming device/platform owners like Apple, Google and Telstra will do the same.

      If the network refuses to pay, the user will have to learn how to sideload the app to use it on their Amazon streaming device. If the average user does not know how to rearrange the icons on their home screen, what chance do they have to sideload an app?

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