Has Rupert Murdoch really been waging a local media campaign these last few years against Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) in order to protect his local pay TV operator Foxtel?
That’s the charge made by many of the NBN’s backers who claim that Murdoch’s News Limited is conducting a fierce media campaign against the network because it will enable the launch of rival IPTV-based pay TV services to compete with Foxtel.
Whilst it is intriguing to believe that Rupert Murdoch is personally committed to destroying the NBN in order to protect Foxtel, the argument does not really stand up to close scrutiny – although that’s not denying his media outlets have been strong critics of the network.
Firstly, as much as former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy may have desperately wanted to impose one, there is no ban in place on Foxtel launching services on the NBN – the NBN is as open to Murdoch as it is to anyone else.
Of course, Murdoch already has an established local pay TV base of 2.5 million subs via Foxtel and Austar via cable and satellite – but that represents a household penetration of only around 30%.
As a result – and bearing in mind Foxtel is already offering a scaled-down OTT product via various retail devices – the NBN enables Foxtel to target the 70% of homes not taking its content, and to do so with even better quality OTT services – what’s not to like about that from Rupert’s point of view?