ACCC Approves Foxtel/Austar Deal

The ACCC has approved Foxtel's long-awaited takeover of Austar, although it's not without quite a few considerations.

The ACCC's statement on its approval of the deal is quite lengthy — you can read it here if you're so inclined — but the brief version of the rules that Foxtel has to undertake is as follows:

The undertakings will prevent FOXTEL from acquiring exclusive internet protocol television (IPTV) rights for a range of attractive television program and movie content, including:

Linear channels supplied by independent content suppliers, including more than 60 linear channels that are currently broadcast by FOXTEL and many more that are broadcast internationally Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) rights to current or past seasons of television programs that form part of a linear channel supplied by an independent content supplier Movie linear channels (or movies for inclusion in a linear channel) from more than 50% of the eight major movie studios or more than 50% of the eight specified independent movie studios SVOD rights to movies, except for an 18 month window in relation to the movie studios from which FOXTEL is not prohibited from acquiring exclusive linear rights. The undertaking further prohibits FOXTEL from exclusively acquiring any movie delivered on a Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) basis.

The ACCC's release quotes Rod Sims, ACCC chairman as stating that

"The proposed acquisition would bring together the two main subscription TV industry players in Australia each with a substantial customer base and significant access to key content. This would in turn give Telstra, FOXTEL's largest shareholder, greater market power in regional fixed broadband and telephony markets. By reducing content exclusivity, the undertakings will lower barriers to entry and promote new and effective competition in metropolitan and regional telecommunications and subscription television markets. Taking into account the undertaking which has been offered by FOXTEL, the ACCC is satisfied that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition."

Telstra (a 50 per cent shareholder in Foxtel) has its own spin on the deal, phrasing it as a win for consumers, according to Telstra's Group Managing Director Telstra for Digital Media, Rick Ellis:

"The merger between FOXTEL and AUSTAR will create a pay TV company that will be able to provide innovative content for customers across Australia. It will also enable Telstra to expand its FOXTEL on T-Box offering into some AUSTAR areas over time, enabling regional Australians in those areas to enjoy the same high quality IPTV services as those who live in metropolitan areas. Telstra will provide further detail on its plans to expand the availability of FOXTEL on T-Box at a later date."

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    About time, I wonder how long until we get the Foxtel channels that we don't have or until they fully turn Austar into Foxtel.

    does this mean i can get foxtel/austar on my xbox now in a "regional" location?

    You can already ,just put in an address from a foxtel area

    Austar was already expensive and I imagine Foxtel is too, so I can see the price of Sat TV sky rocketing now. Glad I got out of it when I did.

      You're an idiot if you think that.

        Based on What!!
        Do you really think that prices for PayTV won't go up if there is only one provider? How the hell is a monopoly going to help this situation, you'd have to be simple minded to think otherwise. You might want to show some evidence that prices will stay the same at best, before you shoot your mouth off! The only good thing that will come of this is maybe management and maybe, but doubtful, content.

          There was already effectively a monopoly with Foxtel and Austar servicing separate areas. There was effectively no competition between them anyway.

            True, but giving it all to Foxtel isn't going to make things better. It most certainly 'won't' bring down prices.

          There is no change in competition from this takeover, you have no idea what you are talking about, please leave this website forever.

    This is excellent news! I am so tired of the terrible service by Austar.

    I see this as a no brainer, they serviced different areas and were never in competition anyway. What would bring real competition would be the licencing of the Fox Sports channels to other providers. I can't understand it but I hope there legalise of this ACCC ruling makes that happen.

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