Foxtel boss unloads on outdated regulation

Foxtel boss unloads on outdated regulation

Anti-siphoning laws do not apply to Stan or Paramount. Foxtel claims this allows free-to-air television owners to get ahead of the Murdoch controlled pay TV company and acquire all the rights to a sport. This gives them exclusivity – which is valuable to advertisers and subscribers – and allows them to choose which way to split the rights across their platforms.

“What the regime protects is not true anymore,” he said. “Free companies are winning rights of free sports events, but they’re pushing consumers to their paid outlets.”


Delany’s comments come as Foxtel fights Nine, Seven and Paramount to keep the broadcast rights to the AFL. Foxtel is a long-standing partner of the AFL and wants more exclusivity on key matches, a point of major tension with the AFL’s incumbent free-to-air network partner, Seven West Media.

But it is also facing competition from Paramount and Nine, both of which have made offers to acquire the free-to-air and streaming rights to AFL games.

“At the moment – under the law – it would be very easy for a foreign owned free-to-air that has a streamer to buy any sport, and then do whatever they want with it,” he said.

“We’re the only pay TV company in the world at 20 per cent penetration. That’s partly our own fault – paying too much for sport and so you have to have a very high retail price. But if the laws about being able to get it for free, then why should it be limited to a free-to-air license? Why can’t it just be that you’re willing to offer it for free? The internet actually reaches more homes than terrestrial does.”


Free TV Australia, the lobby group for commercial broadcasters Seven West Media, Network Ten and Nine has long advocated for the laws to include global services to allow the public free access to major events.

Seven and Nine have publicly urged the Albanese government to review the laws to avoid the public paying for their favorite sports. The government has made a review of the scheme a priority.

Delany shares the concerns about global services, but has not publicly advocated for increased regulation.

“Australians have really reinvented the way in which they watch TV and the anti-siphoning regime is stuck in a time warp of that 1993-94 period,” he said.

“Why shouldn’t a company like ours have the right to bid for sports in an open process against those other companies who are paid TV companies, and we would commit to make those events that are truly iconic and available for free.”

Kayo Sports already offers an ad-supported product called Kayo Freebies, but there are no rules on how long Foxtel is required to keep something available for free on the service.

“It’s a fact that [the TV networks] don’t acquire free rights alone, they acquire free and paid rights, and they exploit them, and they push customers over to the paid side.”

Delany’s comments were made following the release of Foxtel’s annual results, which showed a 2 per cent fall in subscription video revenue due to a $US61 ($AU85.7) million impact from foreign currency fluctuations.

He said the company was on track to generate $3 billion in revenue by 2025, and to get to five million customers. But Foxtel still has billions of dollars in debt, which is owed to shareholders News Corp and Telstra. “We’re producing lots of cash, which the shareholders can use to invest or pay down debt. How the shareholders choose to spend the cash is obviously up to a decision for them,” he said.

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