Prime Media CEO: ‘Regional TV market is not developed enough for HBBTV’

Ian AudsleyCEO of regional broadcaster Prime Media Ian Audsley has explained his decision to withdraw from the industry television body saying he does not believe the market is ready for internet enabled HBBTV.

As Mumbrella revealed this morning, Prime surprised many in the industry by announcing it was withdrawing from Freeview, which is currently readying for the launch of FreeviewPlus, its new internet-enabled TV service.

“We’re not the first regional broadcaster to pull out of Freeview,” Audsley told Mumbrella this afternoon, citing Win’s decision to pull out of the industry body two years ago.

“It is conditional for Freeview membership that shareholders participate in HBBTV and we’re of the view that the regional television market is not developed enough to support HBBTV at this time.”

Audsley sighted the poor take up in many regional areas as a sign the regional market it undeveloped and not ready for the service.

“The set of protections for HBBTV capable sets in regional Australia at this time is (projected at) 16,754 sets in early FY15,” he said “Now that’s a penetration of less than half of one per cent in our market of 3.9m TV sets.”

“We are talking about half of one per cent potential penetration and that’s before you get to how many of those 16,000 TV sets might actually be connected.”

“We are of the view that it is not sufficiently developed to support it commercially so we had to make the decision to pull out.”

Asked if Freeview was pushing ahead too quickly in the rollout Audsley said: “Freeview is pushing ahead. It has larger shareholders than Prime and they are ready to go, they have content to exploit, they have good opportunities and Freeview is probably right to get cracking on maximising the opportunity for those shareholders.”

The Prime Media boss also said they were open to the technology down the track.

“We see many ways to participate in broadband services so we will consider out options if and when the market matures,” he said.

“But for a small shareholder like us with an underdeveloped market it is just not a priority.”

Nic Christensen 


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