Foxtel

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Foxtel Management Pty Limited
Type Proprietary limited joint venture
Industry Pay television
Founded 22 October 1995
Headquarters Macquarie Park, New South Wales, Australia
Key people Richard Freudenstein, CEO
Bruce Akhurst, chairman
Products Direct-broadcast satellite
cable television
iptv
mobile television
Revenue A$2 billion (2009–10)[1]
Profit A$206 million (2009–10)[1]
Employees 1,500[2]
Parent Telstra (50%)
News Corp (50%)[3]
Website foxtel.com.au

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 News Corp (FOX) and Telstra (TEL).

Foxtel's shareholders are Telstra (50%, through Telstra Media Pty Ltd) and News Corp (50%, through News Corp Australia). It shares many features with the Sky service in the United Kingdom, including iQ, the electronic program guide, a similar remote control, and Red Button Active.

History[edit]

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" representing News Corporation Fox and "Tel" representing Telstra).

In October 1995, Foxtel commenced a 20 channel service, delivered over the Telstra Hybrid Fibre Coaxial network.[4]

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.[5] In February 1999, Foxtel began offering its own satellite service to new customers.[6]

Publishing and Broadcasting Limited bought half of News Corporations shares in October 1998, giving each quarter ownership.[7]

In 2002, a Content Sharing Agreement between Foxtel and Optus Television was approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).[8]

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)."[9] This takeover involved a minority shareholder approval on 30 March 2012,[10] the approval of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 10 April 2012,[11] and has had approval from a Second Court Hearing.[12] The Austar shares have been suspended on the ASX as of 16 April 2012,[13] and were delisted from the ASX on 27 April 2012.[9] The takeover was completed on 24 May 2012.

News Corporation acquired Consolidated Media Holdings in November 2012, bringing its stake to 50%, up from 25%.[3]

Ratings[edit]

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,[14] an Australian pay television record at that time. This ratings record has since been eclipsed by the 2011 Rugby World Cup on Fox Sports 1 averaging around 500,000 viewers, which was smashed by the 2012 London Olympics Coverage, broadcast on 8 dedicated channels in both HD and SD formats, which saw an average of 946,432 viewers tuning in on the opening weekend, with around 600,000 to 700,000 viewers nightly thereafter.

As of 2012, Fox Sports channels, in particular Fox Footy, average between 90,000 to 300,000 + viewers for NRL/AFL matches throughout the week. The highest rated light entertainment shows are The Simpsons most weeknights on Fox8 with around 110,000 viewers, as well as Family Guy with around 70,000 viewers. A&E has also recorded healthy audience numbers for its TruTV & A&E US syndicated shows from the US – Pawn Stars (85,000), Hardcore Pawn (85,000), and Storage Wars (90,000). BBC UKTV also consistently rates well with British soaps EastEnders (80,000) and Coronation Street (65,000). The LifeStyle channel has experienced audiences in excess of 100,000 people for its Premiere shows Location, Location, Location Australia, Grand Designs Australia, Selling Houses Australia, Disney Channel (Australia) and The Real Housewives of Melbourne brings strong ratings.

Availability[edit]

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 now also transmits its satellite service into these cities as well as all over Australia including regional areas since the takeover of Austar, previous Austar customers are now 100% Foxtel customers with the conversion from Austar to Foxtel in regional Australia is now complete, however, satellite service is not supplied to user sites where Telstra HFC cable is available in metropolitan areas. 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.[15]

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.

Foxtel subscriber growth from 1995 to 2007[16][17]

As of 2011, Foxtel is Australia's largest pay television operator, with programming available to over 70% of Australian homes, and delivered to over 1.65 million,[18] either directly or by Foxtel's wholesale customers. In April 2008, Foxtel's penetration into Australian homes passed 30%.[19] This penetration rate is significantly lower compared with market penetration rates in the US (over 85%)[20] and in Western Europe (over 55%).[21] 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.[original research?]

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[22] was launched to allow Foxtel packages and pricing to be compared to SelecTV, however this service was ceased along with the ceasing of SelecTV's 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 24 November 2009, Foxtel added 7Two to the East Coast (satellite) and 7TWO and GO! to cable subscribers. ABC3 was recently introduced on 4 December 2009 to all Foxtel and Austar subscribers.

On 20 May 2010, Foxtel and Microsoft announced a new way of receiving Foxtel – over the internet and direct to television sets through Xbox 360s 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.[18]

Services[edit]

Although originally launching in 1995 with just a cable service, Foxtel has branched out into many new services since its inception.

Channels[edit]

Foxtel defines a virtual channel order that groups channels by their content.

General entertainment channels are from 100 to 149 which includes metropolitan/state-based localised advertising primary channels the Nine Network, ABC1, SBS One, the Seven Network and Network Ten, with metropolitan/state-based localised advertising multichannels ABC2/ABC 4 Kids, 7Two, GO! and Eleven, As well as national channels TV Hits, LifeStyle, Fox8, 111 Greats, Fox Classics, SoHo, LifeStyle YOU, FX, MTV and the Foxtel on Demand Movie Preview. Also for the following extra channels which are BBC UKTV, Arena, The Comedy Channel, 13th Street, NBCUniversal's Universal Channel and E!, Bio., LifeStyle Food, LifeStyle Home, Style, Syfy and STUDIO.

Timeshifted versions of general entertainment channels are from 150 to 169 for a two-hour delay of Fox8, TV Hits, Fox Classics, The Comedy Channel, Arena, SoHo, BBC UKTV, FX, LifeStyle, LifeStyle Food, LifeStyle You, 111 Greats, 13th Street and Syfy.

Special interest channels are from 170 to 179 which includes TVSN, Expo Channel and SBS2.

Community service channels are from 180 to 199 which includes National Indigenous Television, Australian Christian Channel and Aurora Community Channel.

High definition channels are from 200 to 299 which includes metropolitan/state-based localised advertising versions of the ABC News 24, 7mate, GEM, One, SBS One (simulecasted), Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, SPEED, ESPN and ESPN2, As well as national channels Foxtel HD+ Welcome Movie, A&E, Fox8 (native & SD upscaled), BBC UKTV, FX, SoHo, Premiere, showcase, Family, Action / Adventure, Comedy, Drama / Romance, Thriller / Crime, Masterpiece, Discovery, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild and BBC Knowledge.

Movie packaged channels are from 400 to 499 which includes a Foxtel on demand movie preview channel, Premiere, Premiere 2, showcase, showcase two, Action / Adventure, Comedy, Drama / Romance, Family, Thriller / Crime, Masterpiece, Turner Classic Movies and World Movies.

Metropolitan/state-based localised advertising Sports Channels packaged channels are from 500 to 599 which includes Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, Fox Footy, SPEED, Disney's ESPN and ESPN 2, Eurosport, Fox Sports News, Eurosport News, Fuel TV, Main Event (pay-per-view), Sky Racing 1, Sky Racing 2, Sky Racing World, TVN and Setanta Sports.

Metropolitan/state-based localised advertising News, Coverage and informational channels are from 600 to 699 which includes Sky News Local, Sky News Australia, Sky News Business, Sky News Weather Channel, Fox News, National Geographic (with two-hour timeshifted version), Time Warner's CNN International, Discovery (with two-hour timeshifted version), BBC World News, Channel NewsAsia, A-PAC, Bloomberg Television and NBCUniversal's CNBC. Also for the following extra channels which are Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo People, Disney's History, A&E and CI, Discovery Communications' Animal Planet, Discovery Turbo MAX (with two-hour timeshifted version), Discovery Science, Discovery Home & Health and TLC, BBC Knowledge

Pre-Teenage entertainment channels are from 700 to 799 which includes Viacom Media Networks channels Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Time Warner's Cartoon Network and ABC3. Also for the following extra channels which are Nick Jr., CBeebies, Disney Junior, Disney XD, and Boomerang.

Music video channels are from 800 to 829 which includes Channel [V], MAX, Smooth and Country Music. Also for the following extra channels which are [V] Hits, Viacom Media Networks channels MTV Dance and MTV Music.

Audio only channels are from 830 to 899 which includes Foxtel Tunes (formerly known as Air Active), SBS AM, SBS FM, ABC NewsRadio, ABC Radio National, ABC Local Radio, ABC Local Radio NSW, ABC WA Goldfields, ABC Classic FM, ABC Triple J, ABC DiG and ABC DiG Jazz.

Pay-per-view and foreign language channels are from 900 to 989 which includes Foxtel on Demand, Greek radio Ant1 Radio and Antenna, Italian radio RAI Radio and RAI and Adults Only Select 1 and 2.

Interactive services are available for AM/FM Radio Test, Radio Selector, Modem Connection Test, Foxtel Digital Help, Foxtel HD+ Active Help, iSuggest (Foxtel IQ DVR) and Weather Active.

New channels include Foxtel Movies Disney, Disney XD and BBC First.

Defunct channels[edit]

Channels that were re-branded include W (renamed to SoHo), Fashion TV (replaced by FX/Fashion content moved to Style), BBC HD (replaced by BBC UKTV HD), Fox Footy Channel (replaced by Fox Sports 3), Fox Kids Australia (shared with Fox Classics), Weather 21 (replaced by The Weather Channel), The Weather Channel (replaced by Sky News Weather), Showtime Greats (replaced by Showtime Action, Showtime Comedy and Showtime Drama, both swallowed with Foxtel Movies), VH1 Australia (Replaced by MTV Classic), MTV Classic, MTV Hits and MTV Live HD (all three were both swallowed and rebranded as MTV Dance and MTV Music) and Air Active (which was replaced by Foxtel Tunes).

HD simulcasts that were replaced by other HD channels include Ten HD (replaced by One HD with the SD version replaced by ELEVEN), ABC HD (replaced by ABC News 24), Seven HD (replaced by 7mate) and Nine HD (replaced by GEM).

Channels completely discontinued include MusicCountry, The Soundtrack Channel, Movie Network (replaced by Foxtel Movies), Showtime Network (replaced by Foxtel Movies), TechTV, Fashion TV (replaced by FX/Fashion content moved to Style), Ovation, KidsCo, History+2, Starpics (replaced by Foxtel Movies), Gamesworld Interactive Games and the Interactive Sports Selector.

TV1 and SF ceased transmission at 11:59pm, 31 December 2013. They were replaced by two new channels: TV Hits and Syfy.

Foxtel Digital[edit]

Foxtel Digital logo

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 primary downlink frequency of 12.438 GHz expanded to adjacent frequencies, with further expansion during November 2009 of frequencies on the Optus D3 satellite. The Telstra hybrid fibre-coaxial cable carries Foxtel with an approximate downstream bandwidth of 560 MHz with an upstream return (for internet, on-demand, phone and other two-way dependent services) bandwidth of 2.4 MHz.

As of April 2007, all Foxtel subscribers are using the digital set-up, making Foxtel Digital synonymous with the standard Foxtel service.

Foxtel HD[edit]

Foxtel HD+ Logo

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, BBC 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.[23]

Foxtel HD (current name) is broadcast in H.264 and provides channels in both 720p and 1080i. As of 2011, almost a third of Foxtel's customers were receiving the HD service.[18]

Foxtel Download[edit]

On 1 October 2009, Foxtel launched an online download service which allows all cable and satellite customers to access Foxtel content via their computer.[24] 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,[25] 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.[26] 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 Download was discontinued in September 2012, with the service no longer being available to subscribers.

Foxtel Go[edit]

On 7 November 2012, Foxtel launched a mobile app called Foxtel Go Originally it was only available on iPad, but from 20 February 2013 it was also available on iPhone and later Mac, PC and Android. Foxtel Go was launched after the success of its London 2012 app, which simulcast 8 live high definition channels that were also offered on the standard Foxtel service. The channels provided live coverage of the 2012 London Olympic games.

Foxtel Go is free for residential customers with a set-top box and a log-in ID and customers can access any channel that they are subscribed to on their normal account, although, the Sky News service can be accessed without a Foxtel account.

The only limitation to the service is that only three devices can be used in any given month with only one changed permitted that month. At the end of each month this is reset and a further change can be made.

Unlike Mobile Foxtel, the channels offered on Go are a live simulcast of the standard channel, where as on Mobile Foxtel, it is a loop of selected shows, and Foxtel Go also removes the session time limit. On Mobile Foxtel, users can only watch 15 minutes of programming per session or 200 hours per month.

The current channels, in order as listed on the app are: UKTV; Area; Lifestyle; Fox 8; 13th Street; SoHo; Bio.; Lifestyle Food; Lifestyle Home; Lifestyle You.; FX; Studio; TVSN; Movies Premiere; Showcase; Movies Family; Movies Action/Adventure; Movies Comedy; Movies Drama/Romance; Movies Thriller/Crime; Movies Masterpiece; World Movies; Fox Sports 1; Fox Sports 2; Fox Sports 3; Eurosport; Speed; Fox Sports News; Eurosport News; FuelTV; Fox Sports Plus 1; Fox Sports Plus 2; Fox Sports Plus 3; Fox Sports Plus 4; Sky News National; Sky News Business; Sky News Weather; CNN; History; A&E; Discovery Channel; National Geographic Channel; BBC Knowledge; Animal Planet; Nat Geo Wild; Nat Geo Adventure; Discovery Turbo; Discovery Science; Discovery Home and Health; TLC; BBC World News; CBeebies; Disney Channel; Disney Junior; Cartoon Network; Boomerang; [V]; [V] Hits; Max; CMC.

Foxtel Go also has a Catch Up service with the following channels having selected programmes available on Catch Up: UKTV, Arena, Lifestyle, Fox8, Comedy, 13th Street, SoHo, bio., Lifestyle Food, Lifestyle Home, Lifestyle You, E!, Style, FX, Studio, Movies Premiere, Showcase, Movies Family, Movies Action/Adventure, Movies Comedy, Movies Drama/Romance, Thriller/Crime, Movies Masterpeice, TCM, World Movies, Sky News National, Sky News Business, CNN, History, A&E, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, BBC Knowledge, Animal Planet, Crime and Investigation Network, Nat Geo Adventure, Discovery Turbo Max, Discovery Science, Discovery Home & Health, TLC, CBeebies, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, BabyTV, [v],Max.

Foxtel announced at launch that more channels and devices will be added as time progresses.

In June 2013 Foxtel Go will be available on selected Android handsets and tablets.

Foxtel Play[edit]

On 14 March 2013 at the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) conference, the Foxtel CEO announced that in August 2013 the company would launch a new service named "Foxtel Play".

Foxtel Play will be a "no lock in contract, internet TV service" to be available across a range of devices such as computers, TVs and video game consoles.

Foxtel Play customers will be able to watch TV shows and movies across multiple internet connected devices including selected connected TV's and games consoles at home as well as on the move with compatible smartphones, tablets and PC and Mac computers through the Foxtel Go app. Foxtel Play will enable customers to subscribe by the month with no lock in contracts and build their own entertainment service from a range of genre based channel packages starting from $25 per month. At launch, Foxtel Play will provide over 40 channels and more than 2000 catch up video on demand titles including programming from some of the most well loved channel brands across movies and premium drama, documentaries, entertainment, kids and live sports.

Foxtel will release more information closer to launch such as channels available and pricing.

Foxtel on Demand[edit]

Main article: Foxtel On Demand

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.

Mobile Foxtel[edit]

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:[27] Sky News National, Sky News Business Channel, CNN, Fox Sports News, 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 Fox Sports News, 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.[27]

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 magazine[edit]

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.[28] 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 magazine unbundling[edit]

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.

Alternatives to the Foxtel magazine[edit]

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.

Foxtel on Xbox Live[edit]

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.[29] On 16 May 2012, Foxtel on Xbox 360 was updated to include voice commands and hand guestures.

iQ3[edit]

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.[30] When Williams made the announcement he mentioned the iQ3 development and Foxtel's coverage of the London 2012 Olympics in almost-the-same sentence, leading many to have understood Foxtel planned to release the iQ3 in time for the London 2012 Olympics, although that was not what was said nor meant to be implied.

Models available[edit]

Foxtel iQ3 (upcoming model)[edit]

Foxtel's next generation iQ product being primarily IP based. Due to launch later in 2014. Includes an updated user interface (similar to the Foxtel Go layout) and rumoured to have a total of nine tuners, developed by manufacturer Pace.

Foxtel iQHD (current model)[edit]

The satellite Foxtel iQHD set top box

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.[31]

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).[32]

Subscribers wanting the option of HD without paying for it can opt to pay the one-off fee to get the iQHD box initially but pay the iQ1 rates with the HD features disabled. Doing this still gives them use of the full 320GB HDD capacity, just the HD channels are blocked.

On 2 November 2011, Foxtel started notifying subscribers of the option to upgrade (at an additional one-off $200 upgrade fee) to the new iQHD 1TB model with 4 times the recording capacity. As at September 2012 it is still unclear which box new subscribers will receive – the 320GB or 1TB model as Foxtel's website still gives the 320GB specifications for iQHD with just a mention of the 1TB model. People have questioned why Foxtel claim the 1TB model with a HDD size 3 times larger than a 320GB HDD gives 4 x recording capacity. It is speculated that is because a portion of the 320GB and the 1TB drive are reserved for On Demand downloads so the actual recording capacity on the 1TB drive is 4 times larger than the recording capacity on the 320GB HDD.

Foxtel iQ1.5[edit]

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.

Foxtel iQ (original model)[edit]

A satellite Foxtel iQ set top box

Foxtel launched Foxtel iQ in early 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 into 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.[33]

Foxtel Standard[edit]

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.

Legislation affecting Foxtel[edit]

Advertising[edit]

When Foxtel was launched in 1995, advertising during programs was banned under Australian Government legislation for the first two years. Foxtel have since significantly 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.[34] Certain programming on select channels are broadcast commercial-free such as movies on Showtime and selected games on Fox Sports[citation needed] but in-between each program Foxtel would then stream many ads giving a long time between the end of one movie and the start of the next.

EOFYS (pronounced \ 'E o f\os' ) is an acronym originating from Australia referring to an "End of Financial Year Sale". Its first use was in a 2009 Foxtel advertising campaign created by Three Drunk Monkeys.

Since the Foxtel advertisement, other Australian businesses and advertising firms[which?] have taken licence to adopt the term, and it has become an acceptable part of the Australian lexicon and verbal nomenclature referring to businesses offerings before the Australian financial year end on 30 June.[citation needed]

Anti-siphoning[edit]

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.[35] In 2009, the Minister for Communications announced a review of the legislation.[36] In an Olympics year, the Australian anti-siphoning list runs to over 1300 events and is one of the longest in the world.[37]

Third party access[edit]

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.[38]

Foxtel-owned channels[edit]

On 24 May 2012, Foxtel merged with Austar, resulting in Foxtel gaining Austar's shares in XYZnetworks (which Foxtel closed and created Foxtel Networks), as well as their shares in Main Event.[39][40] The channels owned by Foxtel include:

Former channels[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Knox, David (20 February 2008). "Foxtel profit, between the lines". TV Tonight. 
  2. ^ "Careers". Foxtel. 
  3. ^ a b "News Limited seals pay TV deal after Federal Court approves CMH takeover". The Australian. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Potter, Ben (23 October 1995). "No fanfare as Foxtel hits the airwaves". The Age (Fairfax Media). p. 6. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
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