Prime Media withdraws from TV industry body Freeview

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.21.13 PMSeven affiliate Prime Media has withdrawn from the main television industry body Freeview meaning it will be out of the soon-to-launch HbbTV product FreeviewPlus.

Free-to-air networks have been working with the industry body to launch the new service, which will enable viewers with a set-top box to access a range of other programs and stream catch-up services directly to their TV sets, with a launch set for this month delayed.

The withdrawal was confirmed by Freeview chairman Kim Dalton who said in a statement: “Freeview is about to launch FreeviewPlus, the world’s most advanced free-to-air TV service. Freeview has worked closely with all of Australia’s free-to-air broadcasters, TV manufacturers and retailers to ensure that the benefits of FreeviewPlus will be available to all Australians.

“Freeview remains fully committed to TV audiences in regional Australia. Viewers in these areas will have access to the full range of FreeviewPlus benefits via other regional commercial broadcasters and the national broadcasters, ABC and SBS.”

The reasons for Prime Media’s withdrawal are not yet clear, however comment is being sought from the network.

Dalton made it clear in the statement that Prime Media would be welcome to return should it change its mind.

“We hope that in time Prime will reconsider this decision. Freeview would welcome the network back as a member in the future.”

The decision comes only weeks after former News Corp Australia CEO John Hartigan took over as chairman of the company.

Update: Prime Media has since clarified its position, with CEO Ian Audsley noting the poor take up of HBBT in many regional areas as a sign the regional market is 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 of the view that it is not sufficiently developed to support it commercially so we had to make the decision to pull out.”

Nic Christensen


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