Finance Finance News Foxtel boss wants fewer media regulations

Foxtel boss wants fewer media regulations

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Foxtel boss Richard Freudenstein has called on the federal government to allow it to compete for the rights to more major sporting events, saying current rules give an unfair advantage to free-to-air networks.

Mr Freudenstein said current anti-siphoning regulations, which ensure major sporting events are broadcast on free-to-air television, had hurt competition in the TV industry.

Events currently included on the anti-siphoning list include the Olympics, the Australian Open tennis, NRL and AFL games and cricket test matches played in Australia.

He said allowing Foxtel to compete for the rights to major sporting events would ensure more money for sporting codes.

“If there was a simpler, fairer anti-siphoning system there would be more money available for sport and that would find its way to encouraging the next generation of players,” he said.

Mr Freudenstein said while it would be “politically difficult” for the government to completely remove anti-siphoning rules, the number of events included on the list should be reduced.

The government should also consider establishing a “split system” where free to air rights and pay TV rights were separated.

Mr Freudenstein also wants cross media ownership laws abolished and restrictions on access to the broadcast spectrum removed.

“In Foxtel’s view the development of an industry that is truly innovative, competitive and dynamic is hindered by the fact there is too much media-specific regulation and it is applied in an uneven manner,” he told a business lunch in Sydney.

“(Abolishing regulations) will create a technologically-neutral, level playing field for businesses to thrive in and the resulting competitive environment will create benefit to consumers.”

But he called on the government to do more to stop online piracy, which was hurting industries like TV, including allowing content owners to block sites that allow people to illegally download TV shows and movies.

“It’s theft, so there has to be something done about it.”