Foxtel Fesses Up On Pseudo-HD Sport

We know that sports is a key driver for pay TV in Australia and that many Lifehacker readers are annoyed at the lack of high-definition sports. Given that, it's pleasing to see the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reminding Foxtel that it needs to be honest with viewers about whether a given AFL broadcast is HD or not.

Picture by frostnova

Foxtel broadcasts far more HD sport than any of the free-to-air networks, but because it shares rights for AFL with the Seven network, not all of those matches are full HD. The five matches Foxtel films itself are actually in native HD (1920 by 1080i), but matches sourced from Seven are filmed at a lower quality and up-converted.

After receiving complaints from subscribers, the ACCC expressed concerns to Foxtel that its promotional material did not adequately explain the distinction:

The ACCC was concerned that Foxtel, by using a number of terms such as “real HD”, “beautiful”, “glorious”, “brilliant”, “stunning”, and “best HD experience” to promote its AFL high definition broadcasts, had created the impression that there was a singular and absolute level of high definition and that this had the potential to mislead consumers and contravene the Australian Consumer Law.

Foxtel has agreed to ensure future promotions are not misleading and to publish a notice on its web site explaining its approach to HD.

Are you annoyed when you watch an up-converted match on your fancy big screen? Tell us in the comments.

ACCC


Comments

    I'm not that surprised, foxtel already admitted that the channel 7 games were upscaled due to channel 7 not willing to record in HD

    Is there any reason for Channel 7 to not record in HD?

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

        Cost. It costs more to shoot HD and as their primary channels are on SD there's no point as everything is downscaled anyway.
        Ironically most of the RMITV programs on Channel 31 are recorded in HD but they too are downscaled because Government refused to grant C31 a HD licence.
        Our live show In Pit Lane comes out of a full HD studio but all the pre recorded segments are in SD 'cause it's a waste of disk space and money to do it in HD when it's just going out in SD anyway.
        The Government stuffed up on the licence thing because Kerry Packer lobbied hard to limit HD 'cause he didn't want to have to totally retool the Nine Network.

          But if part of your massive $ contract for AFL includes HD, you damn well shoot it in HD because that's what you're being paid for.

          Complete lack of professionalism from Seven.

          There's no such thing as a "HD" licence. But it's true the government didn't give Channel 31 enough bandwidth to run an MPEG2 HD channel. Even if it had, C31 probably would've split it into multiple SD channels instead. It would be fun for C31 to do a few test broadcasts of MPEG4 HD at off peak times.

          Seven/TV4ME in metro areas has been the only broadcaster brave enough to try 2D MPEG4 transmission, and they gave up on that pretty quickly.

    Isn't the more interesting fact that the Free to Air channels don't bother to provide HD for all of their sports.
    Yet they are more than happy to delay telecasts, fill them with annoying ad's on repeat.

    if Free to Air want to continue getting sports allocated to them then should at least provide the viewer with a decent picture.

      SD sports are better than no sports, I don't want to have to pay for TV and I won't.Ever.

        Well then, that is your fault if you miss out on sport, no one elses.

          Which is why we need the US system where they do have an anti-siphoning list for events such as the Superbowl, but it's much smaller - but what they do is, for low income earners the Government subsidises the costs so those homes aren't advantaged (and that's only low income earners not the middle income earners here that get all kinds of benefits)

      It's the law. Channels are not permitted to have their HD channel as their primary channel. The channels used to dual broadcast but then the ratings system changed - previously the rating for the channel was for all their channels combined - but now 7 & 7mate are separate, so the ratings will suffer and advertising will decline. Yes the viewers will still be the same, but that's not how advertising dollars work.

    Ten's coverage of the formula 1. Lead up to the actual race was shown in HD on Channel One. Actual race? SD. What a waste.

      So outrageous - Especially given Singapore is a track where HD really shows due.

    Too little too late! Foxtel have known about this since Round 1 of the 2012 AFL season and their subscribers have complained all season. How were they allowed to knowing continue lie to us with their "stunning HD" propaganda all season when it was clear that’s not what viewers were getting? And now instead of fixing the issue and delivering what they promised they’ve reneged and taken the easy way out by saying they’ll stop trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and pretending everything is in HD. I understand that it’s not entirely in Foxtel’s control as the Seven Network need to pull their finger out and stop refusing to film AFL games in HD but it’s a big slap in the face to all Foxtel sport subscribers if you ask me.

    For Foxtel HD, how many broadcasts are in true HD (1080i) and how many are in market-speak HD (720p)?

      All HD channels except ABC News24 and ESPN (both 720p) are 1080i.

      720p still looks really good compared to lousy 576i. I'd take 720p any day if it was the only other option. In fact 720p is often looked upon favorably against 1080i.

    Even though Foxtel has deceived us (and they should be penalised for doing so), I will say that the picture offered by Foxtel is miles better than the garbage that is broadcast FTA.

    I would imagine the reason it looks so better through Foxtel is because they aren't multicasting the f*ck out of their limited bandwidth.

      Foxtel are well known to compress their HD channels far too much. Foxtel HD used to be brilliant, but now it's terrible quality. on Foxtel. Yes better than SD obviously, but they either need to reduce their HD channels or stop the severe compression. And are you watching 7 on Foxtel or through the aerial? Over the aerial 7 looks a lot better than through Foxtel, as again Foxtel compresses their SD channels too much.

        Have you seen free to air "HD" lately?

        Enuf said.

    On Friday night, the footy was shown on 7 mate in HD, and on Fox footy in SD, so what was gong on in this instance? Are 7 refusing to allow Foxtel access to an HD broadcast even though they are showing the match in HD themselves?

      The match was on 7mate in the Rugby League states. It was on 7 in the AFL states.

      Same as the NRL is on GEM in the AFL states, and on 9 in the Rugby League states.

        The game was filmed in HD (as it was shown in HD on 7mate), so how come Fox showed the game in SD?

          The same happens for the NRL. I watched a reply of a mid-season NRL game that was broadcast on Nine in SD - live and replayed on FOX sport 2 in HD!
          I guess nearly all sport is filmed in HD - the ratings are the only thing screwing this entire process.
          Wait till cricket seaon begins! They will broadcast on the SD 'nine/win' channel. BUT. When the news is on - they allow you to switch to GEM to continue to keep watching. They did list last year and the picture was 100% clearer.
          Ads win.

          Incorrect. The game definitely wasn't produced in HD despite being on 7mate - same as every other 7 produced game this year. Foxtel upscaled still looked better than 7mate in the comparison I did on both games over the weekend.

    I wish the ACCC would get on the backs of the FTA channels.

    But there isn't any money in that.

    Foxtel HD is BS all round, so is there SD.
    It may be in the resolution that they say, but it is that heavily compressed it looks terrible.
    Compare it too FTA and it's noticeable.
    Oh and the best sport to see in HD is American football on ONE HD.
    Sad.

    Vermiciousknid, could not agree more, the quality of the vision is s..t. I have complained numerous times to Foxtel without success. I watched the 2014 Auckland nines* & the picture quality was excellent but as soon as the NRL comp started it was crap picture quality, no better than when the footy was telecast in black & white. Seriously considering removing Foxtel all together. All replies from Foxtel were they did not have any other complaints so it must be my TV* or STB* how could it be. If anyone believe the vision is crap pls contact Foxtel

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