Entertainment TV Foxtel announces 16 per cent price rise, prompting customer outrage
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Foxtel announces 16 per cent price rise, prompting customer outrage

Foxtel play
Foxtel has angered subscribers with a recent letter. Photo: AAP
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Pay-TV operator Foxtel has angered its subscriber base by quietly announcing a 16 per cent price increase and an update to its privacy policy that already gives it the right to share customer information with an extensive list of third parties.

In a mail-out late last week, Foxtel told subscribers it would be increasing the cost of its sport channel package by $4 to $29 from February, on the eve of the AFL and NRL seasons.

This represents a 16 per cent increase on the current monthly charge of $25 for sport. But subscribers can only get the channels if they first sign on for Foxtel’s basic entry package that currently costs another $26 a month.

foxtel-letter

Meanwhile the same letter to subscribers included a seemingly innocuous “P.S.” that gently informed subscribers the company – jointly-owned by News Corp and Telstra – was updating its privacy policy, which now runs to nine pages. It did not specify the changes.

On its website, under the heading, “Who do we disclose your personal information to?”, the policy lists everything from third-party marketers to law-enforcement agencies and News Australia-related companies or affiliates. This would almost certainly include the company’s stable of newspapers.

“How they use your personal information is subject to their privacy policies,” the Foxtel site says. Subscribers must contact the company if they don’t want their information shared.

To read Foxtel’s full policy regarding your personal information, click here.

The increase in the price of the sports package prompted an immediate outcry on social media which, in turn, forced Foxtel into full defensive mode.

“Foxtel don’t so much broadcast sport as hold it hostage,” one tweeter wrote.

After a barrage of similar tweets, the company’s customer help centre tweeted that “a small increase in price” would enable them to “acquire more quality content”.

This led to more social media attacks with many decrying the quality of Foxtel’s recent sports content and making the point that a $4 increase on a $25 price amounted to a 16 per cent hike, which was hardly “small”.

“It’s a bit rich to be adding $4 a month to the sports package a few months after losing the PL rights,” wrote one tweeter, referring to Foxtel losing English Premier League broadcast rights to Optus.

Others said it would force them to cancel the service whose pricing already compares unfavourably with streaming services like Netflix and Stan which charge around $10 a month.

“It is time to cancel my #Foxtel subscription,” tweeted one subscriber. “Call it the $4 per month increase that broke the camel’s back. But I’ll miss the darts.”

Subscribers have had to endure a late spring and early summer of second-rate sports viewing – in addition to losing the Premier League rights, Foxtel doesn’t televise any of the major summer cricket matches and will have little or no coverage of the Australian Open tennis.

Meanwhile its football channels have been reduced to endless repeats of sometimes less-than-compelling events. Last week its AFL channel replayed the entire 2012 Brownlow Medal count won by Essendon captain Jobe Watson, only for him to be stripped of the medal four years later.

Foxtel says it has about 2.9 million subscribers throughout Australia.

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