Nine cops backlash from Foxtel satellite customers unable to access Ashes broadcast

Thousands of Foxtel customers are unable to watch the current Ashes series in the UK because the Nine Network refuses to pay for satellite transmission of its high definition Gem channel.

AshesAs the first day of the series began in Cardiff confused Foxtel customers who receive their pay-TV via satellite took to social media to ask why they could not access to Nine’s HD channel GEM.

This morning both Nine and Foxtel pointed the finger at each other, with the dispute centring over a refusal by both parties to pay Optus for satellite capacity to retransmit GEM on Foxtel.

“Some Freeview channels are not retransmitted to satellite customers via their Foxtel box because the free-to-air network has opted not to pay Optus for the satellite capacity that would enable Foxtel to retransmit the channel in question,” said a Foxtel spokesman.

“We’re continually working to negotiate with the Freeview networks on satellite retransmission agreements, but at this stage we do not hold these agreements for all channels in all areas.”

Nine was reluctant to be drawn on the controversy, noting Foxtel satellite consumers can access Gem by connecting their TV to a terrestrial antennae.

“The cricket was available on free-to-air which is free to everyone,” said a Nine spokeswoman.

The current series is being shown exclusively on Nine, after previous overseas Ashes tours have been shared with Fox Sports. On Monday Nine’s network sports sales director Sam Brennan told Mumbrella the decision to air the series on Gem rather than its primary channel was a “no brainer”.

“Cricket is also one of the best sports to show in HD (high definition) so being able to do that on Gem is also a good thing,” he added.

Last night’s coverage saw Gem outrate Channel Ten for audience share with 678,000 metro viewers tuning in for the first session.

Among the criticisms from social media were confusion and dismay from viewers about the lack of access to the cricket contest between Australian and England:

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Neither side was willing to comment on what retransmission of HD broadcast on satellite costs.

Ten had been in a similar position to Nine with its HD channel One but has since chosen to pay for retransmitting to Foxtel customers, although Seven is understood not to be paying for its 7Mate channel to be included on Foxtel satellite.

Controversy around the rebroadcast of HD sporting events for Nine has been an ongoing issue with Nine last year copping flak for not broadcasting the 2014 NRL grand final in high definition (HD) citing “technical difficulties”.

Nic Christensen 


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