Foxtel marks 20th anniversary with its CEO arguing that lowering entry price was a success

Pay-TV operator Foxtel has today marked its 20th anniversary, with CEO Richard Freudenstein telling a forum that last year’s decision to drop its entry price to $25 had been a success.


Freudenstein speaking today at the ASTRA 2015 conference.

Freudenstein told the 2015 ASTRA conference: “It was a huge gamble to reduce Foxtel’s entry package by 50% to drive subscriber growth.

“And I have some even better news for you this year – I’m still here, it worked.”

Last month Foxtel reported 8.6 per cent year-on-year growth with subscriber numbers going from 2.667m to 2.847m, but was later forced to concede that the pay-TV operator had included streaming video on demand service (SVOD) Presto in its subscriber numbers.

Foxtel has consistently refused to release breakdowns of its subscriber figures.

Speaking today at the Star City event centre, Freudenstein made no specific mention of the video streaming service but noted: “Most recently we released (IPTV services) Foxtel Go and Foxtel Play and Foxtel Broadband.

“Not everyone was a success, Some may remember Tmail that Austar launched around 2001.”

More broadly the Foxtel boss noted that the pay-TV industry made a major contribution to economy

“From nothing to a thriving, successful industry in 20 years, employing over 8000 Australians, investing nearly $800m in Australian programming each year, delivering hundreds of thousands of hours of original programs each year,” he said.

Tony Shepherd_3


Freudenstein’s speech followed after ASTRA chair Tony Shepherd also addressed the forum, renewing previous calls he has made for the government to act on media reform.

“Australia’s regulations were probably drafted on a Commodore 64 computer – without any comprehension of the internet’s potential to transform communications and broadcasting for the benefit of consumers,” said Shepherd.

“They were written to protect incumbents and shackle new entrants of the day, without contemplating how they might apply to unimagined new technology.

“This is why the rules ban Foxtel from buying certain sports, yet apply no such ban on a Netflix, for instance, buying rights to the Melbourne Cup and charging Australians to see who wins.”

The ASTRA boss reiterated the pay-TV lobby group’s ongoing calls for changes to the anti-siphoning list, which requires certain major sporting events to be shown on free-to-air television.

“My message today is that Australia stands on the brink of a wonderful, technology-driven revolution in the way content is commissioned, funded, distributed and measured,” he said.

“Rather than shun this new technology, we should welcome it.Rather than seek to apply old regulation to new entrants, we should seek to apply the least regulation possible to both old and new entrants alike.”

Shepherd’s declaration comes only a day after former deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer told Mumbrella that the industry should “watch this space” on media reform, amid an ongoing public campaign by the regional television networks for reform to the rules limiting the population reach of individual TV networks.

Nic Christensen 

Update 2.30pm –  Rival industry lobby group Free TV, which represents the free-to-air TV networks has just put out the following statement:

Harold Mitchell Free TV chairman said: “This latest self-serving attack on the rules by pay TV is misleading and designed to force Australians to pay for sports they currently see for free.

“The anti-siphoning rules have delivered a terrific outcome for the millions of Australian sports fans who are able to see a range of major sporting events live and free.

“Free TV broadcasters do not hoard sporting rights. We show everything we acquire and there is more live and free sport on television than ever before.”


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