definition of Wikipedia
|Type||Proprietary limited joint venture|
|Founded||22 October 1995|
|Headquarters||Macquarie Park, New South Wales, Australia|
|Key people||Richard Freudenstein, CEO
Bruce Akhurst, Chairman
|Products||Direct Broadcast Satellite
|Revenue||A$2 billion (2009-10)|
|Profit||A$206 million (2009-10)|
News Corporation (25%)
Consolidated Media Holdings (25%)
Foxtel is an Australian pay television company, operating cable, direct broadcast satellite television and IPTV services. It was formed in 1995 through a joint venture established between Telstra and News Corporation.
Foxtel's shareholders comprise Telstra (50%, through Telstra Media Pty Ltd) and joint venture company Sky Cable Pty Ltd that is owned by News Corporation (25%) and Consolidated Media Holdings (25%). It shares many features with the Sky Digital service in the United Kingdom, including iQ, the electronic program guide, a similar remote control, and Red Button Active.
Foxtel grew rapidly in 2007, with most of Foxtel's highest-ever rating events being broadcast that year, including the 2007 AFC Asian Cup quarter-final between Australia and Japan, which drew an average of 419,000 viewers, an Australian pay television record at that time. This ratings record has since been eclipsed, most recently by the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final between the Wallabies and the All Blacks, which saw an average of 734,000 viewers watch the match on Fox Sports on 16 October 2011.
In 1995 a venture between News Corporation (in particular 20th Century Fox Media) and Telstra took place whereby Telstra would transmit a TV signal through its coaxial network and News Corporation would be the basis for offering channel negotiations and connections. Foxtel was formed (Fox - being News Corporation Fox; and Tel - being Telstra).
In October 1995, Foxtel commenced a 20 channel service, delivered over the Telstra Hybrid Fibre Coaxial network.
In May 1998, Australis Media, the owner of a satellite television service known as Galaxy, was declared insolvent. In June 1998 Foxtel was able to significantly boost its customer base by acquiring Galaxy subscribers from the liquidator of Australis Media and immediately commenced supplying programming to Galaxy's subscribers on an interim basis. In February 1999 Foxtel began offering its own satellite service to new customers.
On 11 July 2011, Austar announced that "it had entered into definitive transaction agreements with Liberty Global, Inc. (LGI) and FOXTEL Management Pty Limited (FOXTEL) under which FOXTEL will acquire AUSTAR by a series of transactions including a scheme of arrangement (Scheme)." This takeover involved a minority shareholder approval on 30 March 2012, the approval of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 10 April 2012, and has had approval from a Second Court Hearing. The Austar shares have been suspended on the ASX as of 16 April 2012, and were delisted from the ASX on 27 April 2012. The takeover was completed on the 24 May 2012.
Foxtel transmits its cable service via Telstra hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cable into the Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth metropolitan areas, along with the Gold Coast. Foxtel also transmits its satellite service into these cities as well as the state of Western Australia and the cities of Newcastle, Geelong, Central Coast, and Canberra. However, satellite service is not supplied to user sites where Telstra HFC cable is available. Foxtel on Mobile launched on Telstra's Next G Network in late 2006 and is now available within Telstra Next G (HSDPA/850 MHz) coverage areas, which covers 99% of the population.
Telstra's network and Foxtel were created to combat the threat posed to Telstra's local call business by the combination of Optus Vision (now known as Optus TV) content bundling with Optus' local telephony services; Foxtel was the content arm of Telstra's defence strategy, while Telstra's multimedia broadband network was originally the sole delivery system.
In 2002, Foxtel and Optus Television agreed to a content-sharing arrangement. Programming competition between the two companies has now dissipated. Austar, a regional pay television operator, also carries most Foxtel programming. Austar sells satellite-delivered services to regional Australian markets that are not serviced by Foxtel.
As of 2011[update], Foxtel is Australia's largest pay television operator, with programming available to over 70% of Australian homes, and delivered to over 1.65 million, either directly or by Foxtel's wholesale customers. In April 2008, Foxtel's penetration into Australian homes passed 30%. This penetration rate is significantly lower compared with market penetration rates in the US (over 85%) and in Western Europe (over 55%). This is due to the fact that Australian pay-TV fees are significantly more expensive and pay-TV began delivering its service much later in Australia than in the US.
Foxtel announced its maiden annual profit in 2006, more than 10 years after it commenced services. The installation and maintenance of Foxtel services is Telstra's responsibility. In many markets Telstra has outsourced installation and maintenance to large communications contractors, including ABB Communications and Siemens-Thiess Communications Joint Venture.
In 2007, Network Ten formed an agreement with Foxtel to allow them to carry a digital version of Ten's programming. Included in the deal is electronic program guide data, which allows Foxtel iQ users to schedule recordings on Ten. Before the agreement, Ten was carried in an analogue format on cable only.
In 2008, Seven Network finally entered an agreement to allow Foxtel to carry its SD signal
In 2008 the first Pay TV package comparison site
YouCompare.com.au/PayTV was launched to allow Foxtel packages and pricing to be compared to SelecTV, however this service was ceased along with the ceasing of SelecTVs service in late 2010.
On 15 November 2009 Foxtel released an additional 25 channels to satellite and cable subscribers, consisting of high definition channels, movie and theme channels, and several new time-shifted channels. As part of the release, Seven began broadcasting to satellite subscribers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
On 20 May 2010, Foxtel and Microsoft announced a new partnership offering Australians a brand new way of receiving Foxtel – over the internet and direct to television sets through Xbox 360’s online service Xbox LIVE. The service launched November 2010 with 30+ linear TV channels and an additional 12 Video-on-demand channels. It also provided Foxtel's movie service, known as Foxtel onDemand, to non-subscribers for the first time on a pay-per-view basis. Further linear channels were added in April 2011 with the addition of 7 Telstra BigPond channels.
In June 2011, Foxtel launched an over-the-top service on Telstra's IPTV set top box called Foxtel on T-Box carrying the same services as the Foxtel on Xbox service. Also as of June 2011, Foxtel's subscribers numbered just over 1.65 million.
Although originally launching in 1995 with just a cable service, Foxtel has branched out into many new services since its inception.
Foxtel launched its digital service (Foxtel Digital) in March 2004. The service is loosely based on another of News Corporation's subscription providers, BSkyB. Features of the digital service include:
Like many other News Corporation-owned digital platforms, Foxtel uses NDS Group encryption system, electronic program guide and digital video recorder services, the OpenTV interactive platform, and primarily runs on Pace Micro Technology set-top boxes.
Foxtel's satellite service transmits exclusively from the Optus C1 satellite on a frequency of 12.438 GHz and adjacent frequencies, as well as the Optus D3 satellite (November 2009). The Telstra hybrid fibre-coaxial cable carries Foxtel at frequencies of approximately 560 MHz (downstream) and 2.4 MHz (upstream).
As of April 2007, all Foxtel subscribers are using the digital set-up, making Foxtel Digital synonymous with the standard Foxtel service.
Foxtel announced their High Definition service originally called Foxtel HD+ on 30 January 2008, and became officially available on 19 May 2008. The service offers fifteen channels in High Definition, Fox Sports 1HD, Fox Sports 2HD, Fox Sports 3HD, ESPN HD, UKTV HD, FOX8 HD, W HD, Movie One HD, STARPICS 1 & 2 HD, showtime premiere HD, showtime action HD, showcase HD Discovery HD and National Geographic Channel HD, as well as Foxtel Box Office HD and a retransmission of the free-to-air networks' high definition channels (ABC News 24, SBS HD, 7mate, GEM and One) to cable customers.
On 1 October 2009, Foxtel launched an online download service which allows all cable and satellite customers to access Foxtel content via their computer. The service is free for customers, who can download programs from channels within their subscription package. There is currently one live streaming channel, ESPN3, while the remainder of the service provides episodes of programs from 38 channels. Then CEO Kim Williams highlighted that Foxtel planned to expand its live streaming channel range later in the year to coincide with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the launch of thirty new channels for Foxtel Digital and HD. This service has been the source of great controversy as there was no support for Linux, Mac or any 64 bit Windows Operating Systems, leaving many users unable to install the client.
Foxtel On Demand is a service offered by Foxtel to iQ subscribers that allows people to watch selected shows and movies whenever they want. Foxtel On Demand was launched on 8 February 2007, with a variety of programmes and included the entire second season of Love My Way.
The service is available to all Foxtel customers with an iQ set top unit, however the programming able to be played is typically restricted to the channels that the customer is subscribed to. For example, customers not subscribed to the movie channels are not be able to view the stored movies.
Launched in late 2006 to coincide with Telstra's NextG 3G Mobile phone network, Mobile Foxtel (previously Foxtel By Mobile) offers 33 standard channels of programming for a small subscription fee, optimised for mobile devices. At present the channels available are: SKY NEWS National, Sky News Business Channel, CNN, FoxSportsNews, FOX8, The Comedy Channel, MTV, E! Entertainment, Fashion TV, Discovery Mobile, Disney Channel, EuroSport, Union Extreme Sports, Cartoon Network, TV1, National Geographic, ABC1, SBS One and Eurosportnews.
With the exception of CNN, Fashion TV, Eurosportsnews, Eurosport, FOX News, BBC World News and FoxSportsNews, which are direct simulcasts of the actual channel and Sky News channels which are taken from the Sky News Active service, all channels are pre-produced loops that do not directly correlate to the full scale satellite/cable channel. At present, a limit of 200 minutes per month, with 15 minutes per session, may apply to the service, although this has not been strictly enforced.
On 5 December 2009, Foxtel launched a mobile TV guide for the Apple iPhone, dubbed "Foxtel Guide". Features include: remote record for iQ and iQ2, free to air listings, program descriptions and classifications. The application is free to download from the iPhone App Store and is available to non-subscribers. On 25 February 2011, Foxtel released a Google Android application which is available as a free app from Google Play. Features include: remote record, recording to multiple iQs, reminder alerts, favourites and iSuggest. The app works on both Android smartphones and tablets.
Foxtel's magazine offers daily listings for channels offered on the Foxtel platform. It is no longer the only medium that subscribers can find information and recommendations on programming for the entire month.
Foxtel subscribers can opt-in and subscribe to the Foxtel magazine for a monthly fee. Legacy Foxtel Platinum subscribers who opted in for the magazine prior to the Platinum magazine un-bundling period in mid 2010, currently still continue to get the magazine free of charge.
Foxtel's magazine is Australia's most-read paid-for monthly magazine, with a monthly reach of about 700,000. It is published for Foxtel by ACP Magazines, and distributed to Foxtel subscribers (who choose to pay for this service) by the postal service.
Foxtel no longer offers the magazine free to new "Platinum" subscribers. The change to this policy was introduced by Foxtel management to reduce physical waste (paper and associated environmental impact) from printing the monthly magazine, and to reduce monthly costs associated with printing and posting overhead for the Foxtel magazine, to all legacy Platinum customers who decided not to opt-in during the opt-in period in early 2010.
Viewers have electronic options to view the TV schedule, including the Set Top Box itself, Mobile and iPad Apps, Online, daily newspapers and magazines, and via the Foxtel online portal too.
Launched on 10 November 2010. Foxtel on Xbox Live is a streaming video service from Foxtel for the Xbox 360 games console which offers 38 TV channels, on demand movie streaming, and a catch up TV service. It requires both an Xbox Live gold subscription and a Foxtel on Xbox Live subscription. On May 16 2012, Foxtel on Xbox 360 was updated to include voice commands and hand guestures.
At the 2011 ASTRA Conference then CEO Kim Williams made some statements around the next generation of iQ set top units - the "iQ3" - saying "whereas today’s STUs are broadcast centric with strong IP functionality, tomorrow’s will be IP-centric with strong broadcast functionality" and indicating that this product would be brought to customers within two years.
Foxtel launched Foxtel iQ in late 2005. It is a timeshifting personal digital recorder in which subscribers are able to record programs onto a hard drive inside the set-top unit for later viewing. Foxtel iQ includes a feature called Series Link, which lets the viewer choose to record all future episodes in a given television series (availability is limited to certain programmes). Foxtel iQ also allows viewers to use live rewind and pause features during television programmes. Two new services, On Demand and Remote Record, launched in 2007. Remote Record was launched on 1 January 2007 and allows users to log in to the interactive TV guide on the Foxtel website and then command their iQ at home to record shows, while On Demand was launched on 8 February 2007. This service is based on Sky+, which was launched on News Corporation's UK television platform Sky in 2001. There are currently two models of Foxtel iQ, with identical functionality to the user but different audio-visual output abilities. Both models have two tuners, allowing users to record two programs (or record one and watch one) simultaneously. The system has a 160GB HDD and is based on the Linux OS. Pace plc are the set top box provider for iQ (as seen in the advanced picture settings on the unit), of which they claim that the cable version of iQ is the first DVB-based cable digital video recorder.
Foxtel's second generation Foxtel iQ, Foxtel iQHD (then called Foxtel iQ2) launched alongside the Foxtel HD+ service in mid 2008. Equipped with a 320GB HDD, iQHD is capable of recording 30 hours of HD and 90 hours of SD content and offers, double that of the original iQ. The unit also offers HDMI connectivity.
The iQHD is equipped with four tuners, allowing users to record two programs at once while watching a third live. The fourth tuner is reserved for on demand content.
As of 2011, 75 percent of Foxtel subscribers are using an iQ series unit, 40 percent are using Multi-Room, and 40% are using iQ2 (and therefore, HD).
The updated version of the original iQ unit is physically smaller, however allows for better quality recordings and HDMI up-scaling. Within Foxtel and Telstra, these boxes are referred to as iQ 1.5 to differentiate them from the original IQ boxes.
There is a variety of Foxtel standard units. These lack the recording features of the iQ models, but can be connected to a VCR or DVR. Foxtel has stated that it will eventually phase out the standard boxes for all new installations, and the additional features of the iQ models can be deactivated if the customer does not wish pay for them, in effect making them operate as a standard model.
When Foxtel was launched in 1995, advertising during programs was banned under Australian Government legislation for the first two years. Foxtel have since gradually increased advertising across its platform, although still today legislation prevents Foxtel and other pay TV businesses from earning more than 50% of their revenue from advertising, sometimes viewers are exposed to up to 5min worth of adverts for every 8 minutes of programming. Certain programming on select channels are broadcast commercial-free such as movies on Showtime and selected games on Fox Sports.
The Australian anti-siphoning laws also prevent Foxtel and other pay TV suppliers from acquiring exclusive rights to specific sporting events such as cricket, golf, tennis and the football codes. Under the legislation pay TV licencees are prevented from bidding for major sporting events until a right is acquired by the ABC, SBS or a free-to-air commercial network. In 2009 the Minister for Communications announced a review of the legislation. In an Olympics year, the Australian anti-siphoning list runs to over 1300 events and is one of the longest in the world.
Foxtel prevents users from using their subscription card in a third-party decoder, and requires all users to watch the service on a supplied set-top box, included with the subscription, however some users have reported being able to watch certain channels on a computer with a DVB-C card and using sasc-ng to decrypt the video content using card readers to read the decoding keys stored on the card used in Foxtel's iQ.
On 24 May 2012 Foxtel merged with Austar, resulting in Foxtel gaining Austar's shares in XYZnetworks (which Foxtel closed and created Foxtel Networks), aswell as their shares in Main Event. The channels owned by Foxtel include:
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