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Pay TV-confusion



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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA. A.C.T 2600 TEL. 77 71 1 1

X .

MR WARWICK SMITH, MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS

PAY TV - CONFUSION

What exactly are you doing, Mr Beazley?

Leaks indicate that the long-denied facility of Pay TV is back on the agenda, but for the sole reason that the Aussat sale is in trouble. You are allegedly "dressing up" the Aussat sale by providing a Pay TV carriage licence on an exclusive basis to the

satellite carrier.

It is now understood that you are wishing to provide also an exclusive monopoly to the ABC to "provide" the programming. A separation of carriage and content is desirable but is that the optimum outcome for Australia?

There is a state of confusion in your policy position. It is being driven by panic to rescue the Aussat sale. A full public statement on your intentions is urgently required.

More diverse broadcasting services for Australia, such as Pay TV, have long been argued for by the Coalition. Freer entry into the industry will heighten competition and will ensure better services to consumers and wider freedom of choice.

The impact of the Government's Pay TV policy on the current cross-media ownership rules and existing operators of TV services must also be spelt out.

Any "exclusivity" vesting to the ABC as "provider" of programming for Pay TV is not acceptable.

How ironic Mr Beazley, the creator of "Monstercom" - the new expanded Government controlled Telecom - now wants to introduce the long-denied Pay TV technolocy and deliver it up exclusively to the ABC. The creation of a Government funded and controlled

"monster mouth" is of concern.

So much for nationalisation being dead!

So much for diversity, freer choice and competition.

The bigger Government gets, the more it costs the taxpayer. Making the ABC larger is a folly of the highest order and

exclusive rights of provision of Pay TV content is something one would expect from the greatest supporter of union privilege and Government growth.

2 .

Mr Beazley's penchant to support the growth of Government control in telecommunications will visit on the Australian taxpayer a system that will be second rate.

For all the wrong reasons he is to unleash the technology of Pay TV yet proposes to regulate and control it to the exclusive use of government instrumentalities.

"It is the very opposite of the direction policy should take in this country" Mr Smith concluded.

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