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Google, Telstra Warn Against Compulsory Free-To-Air On OZ Smart TVs

Google, Telstra, and a body representing Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic, have all struck out at the federal government’s proposed plans to force smart TV manufacturers to have free-to-air TV apps placed in a prominent place on their television menus and remotes, arguing the expensive exercise will ultimately be paid for by Aussie consumers.

The “prominence” framework, which Communications Minister Michelle Rowland is looking to make law, will mean that apps such as ABCiview, SBS On Demand, and 7Plus, will have a prominent position on smart TVs.

Technology giant Google says such an exercise would give too much real estate to the free-to-air networks, at the expense of competition. It would also “pose a significant cost”, which would be swallowed by the consumer.

 

“Provided any obligations were expressly limited to free-to-air and public broadcaster apps, and those broadcasters had commensurate obligations to maintain and manage those apps, then this could be workable,” Google said in its submission to the government.

“A preferred approach would be through a single app which contains the relevant content of free-to-air broadcasters.

“It is unworkable to mandate that providers offer apps, without a commensurate obligation on broadcasters to make those apps available in an appropriate form.”

Telstra agrees, stating: “We are concerned that a legislated prominence framework is a blunt instrument that is not necessarily capable of solving the government’s concerns related to the availability and consumption of Australian content.

“Instead, it will result in imposing a cost on the manufacturers of regulated TV devices. These costs will ultimately be borne by Australian consumers.”

The Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association, which represents Sony, Samsung and Panasonic, also highlighted the costs.

“It would generate significant costs, this would also likely result in a much smaller range of TVs available to Australian consumers,” the CESA submission said.

“It is also perverse that local commercial stations charge TV manufacturers to advertise with them and yet see no reason to reciprocate with payment for app placement or advertising on device menu/home page.”

“It will instead will result in imposing a cost on the manufacturers of regulated TV devices. These costs will ultimately be borne by Australian consumers.”



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