ABC looks to end $4m retransmission deal with Foxtel to ‘meet funding cuts’

The ABC is looking to end a $4m-a-year deal with News Corp-owned Foxtel. The retransmission agreement involves ABC content being broadcast to the subscription-TV platform’s customers.

The renegotiation follows the government’s decision last year to freeze ABC funding from next month, which will cost the public broadcaster $84m over three years. In a statement to Mumbrella, the ABC confirmed that the discussions with Foxtel stem from the fact it is “considering various savings measures to meet funding cuts with minimal impact to our content, services and staff, in accordance with our ongoing obligation to find efficiencies”.

“We are currently in discussions with Foxtel regarding the costs associated with the retransmission of ABC services,” the ABC confirmed in its statement.

Nine, Seven and Ten have similar arrangements with Foxtel.

A 2014 efficiency review suggested that both the ABC and SBS end their retransmission agreements with Foxtel as a way to achieve savings.

The ABC has faced $393m in cuts since 2014, and stands to lose $783m in funding by 2022, according to calculations.

Foxtel’s revenues slid 8% to $1.55bn in the first half of the 2019 financial year, driven by a fall in subscription income of $133m and a $15m drop in advertising. In the last six months of 2018, the company’s core subscription base fell from 2.287m to 2.195m.

Meanwhile, News Corp remains confident it can improve Foxtel’s results and float it on the stock market. Last month, News Corp reported its revenues were up 17% to total $US2.46bn in the third quarter of the 2019 financial year, compared with the year prior. The results were spurred by the consolidation of Foxtel and Fox Sports.

A Foxtel spokesperson said it did not have any further comment beyond: “We are making good progress but those discussions have some way to go and it’s not appropriate to comment at this stage.”


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