Foxtel Plunders BBC In Exclusive Content Deal

Foxtel Plunders BBC In Exclusive Content Deal

Foxtel has announced a deal that would give it exclusive access to content from the BBC from mid-2014 onwards. That means that BBC Comedy and Drama shows will be moved away from their traditional home on the ABC and onto a new channel from Foxtel. So what does this mean for Doctor Who fans?

The deal, announced today, will see Foxtel create a bigger and better home for the BBC on the Pay TV service, meaning that BBC Comedy and BBC Drama content will be moved from the ABC in mid-2014 onto Foxtel. That particular content will also disappear from ABC’s iView platform, too. Some content will be left on the ABC, however, including BBC’s natural history and religion content.

Naturally, we were concerned about Doctor Who and the BBC iPlayer platform, so we had a chat to Foxtel to get to the bottom of both.

The Foxtel agreement will not affect content deals that are already signed. For a lot of shows, that means the pay TV network will have to wait until the end of another season to corale them onto its new channel.

It turns out, however, that the ABC made a deal with the BBC over Doctor Who that sees it get first bite at any new series going forward. That’s not something that Foxtel can touch unless the ABC turns down the series first, which it’s unlikely to do given it rates so well for the national broadcaster.

So what does the deal mean for BBC iPlayer access in Australia? Surely Foxtel wouldn’t want people getting access to shows for free via iPlayer that it’s charging for on Foxtel and its catch-up app, Foxtel Go? Interestingly, there’s not a lot that Foxtel can actually do about stopping people getting onto iPlayer.

iPlayer is officially still in the trial phase around the world, but it’s a free initiative run directly out of the BBC in the UK and it’s not included in the new content deal, meaning that Foxtel can’t touch it. We’ll keep you posted with any significant developments as we get them.


  • And we are getting rid of foxtel, increasing the download limit so we can watch what we like & not wait 6 or 12 months for it to air. Besides foxtel is crap these days.

  • How can tax payer funded ventures like the ABC justify spending (presumably) large amount of money for entertainment like Dr Who? Don’t get me wrong, I like the show, and I watch other ABC shows like Good Game. However shows like Dr Who doesn’t fit their policy of “the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is legally required to ‘encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia’ and ‘broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity’ with specific emphasis on regional and rural Australia”
    Couldn’t we argue that this same tax money could be applied elsewhere like medical research?

    • You are kidding me! I would NEVER watch Dr Who on a commercial station like Foxtel (or any other) how dare you even suggest such a thing!
      Dr Who is an ABC institution and NO ONE should ever mess with that situation…
      I fully support that Dr Who does contribute to a sense of national identity and pride of being an Australian. I grew up wit Dr Who on the ABC to me they are one and the same – take it away from ABC and I think both lose something very special.
      I also enjoy having a National Television service that does more than rake muck, stir pots and create a nation of fearful people (I’m looking at our ‘free’ commercial stations and their “news” and “current affair” shows). I am also against paying for television which still bombards me with advertisements.
      – here endth the rant –

    • But it does “encourage and promote … performing arts in Australia”. Dr who is undoubtedly one of the most successful TV series ever produced if longevity and recognition of its lead actors/actresses is any measure. They’re just not using Australian actors.

      As for “contribute to a sense of national identity”, well, which nation was that meant to be? Could we not identify with the (almost) end of the Gallifreyans, or the warring Kaleds and Thals.

      Who knows whether or not being enthralled by episodes of Dr Who might not inspire some kids to pursue science in later life and discover a cure for cancer, or the cold, or a means to reliably eliminate politicians from the political process.

      (Yeah, OK, I’m a bit of a fan. Could you tell?)

    • Traditionally, the BBC and the ABC had reciprocal agreements as national broadcasters, so the expenses are lower than they might otherwise be on the broadcast rights.

      “Couldn’t we argue that this same tax money could be applied elsewhere like medical research?”

      A fair chunk of the ABC’s ABC Shop income is in Doctor Who merchandise, so it’s partially self-funding. Many prominent scientists and researchers cite Doctor Who as an influence on their choice of career, so if it is encouraging people to actually take up scientific careers – that include medical research – it can clearly be doing both at once.

  • I pirate Dr Who now because their so called fast tracking isn’t fast enough. In an age were world-wide communication is instantaneous, why do we have to wait? Its because of that notion I download Dr Who as as soon as it airs on the BBC and I’m not even happy with that…….if I could have a hi def video chat with someone anywhere in the world without delay why cant I watch (in Australia) TV shows that are from other country’s the second they are aired in that country? If Dr Who is moving to foxtel that just means I will never watch it on TV because I don’t and never will pay for TV. I will inevitably keep pirating it as I don’t have any other option, just as most of you will do.

    • You don’t have a god-given right to watch the show. I can understand if they take a little time to get here, but your point seems to make me think you deserve to receive it now, and if the ABC or Foxtel pisses you off by delaying it a little, you will just pirate it.

      We have to wait because shows like these cost money – money that is funded from the networks that re-broadcast them around the world. This is the business model of television – we all have to earn a living somehow.

      I’m not saying that we should be paying a fortune, but give it some thought on how it is funded before you get on your high horse to say that there are no options. You have an option – for high quality shows, like anything you want in life, the people who provide it to you should be adequately compensated (just like you are, in whatever you do to earn a living). If you don’t want to pay, you can elect to turn off your TV and be happy.

  • I don’t really understand the full implications of this and don’t much care about Dr Who however if all BBC Comedy and Drama is now only to be available if we pay Murdoch this is horrifying news. The commercial channels are filled with American garbage and BBC drama on the ABC has been an essential refuge. It’s all hunky dory for those who have the money to pay Murdoch, we don’t! Isn’t it interesting that the mainstream media (largely controlled by Murdoch) are not reporting this outrage.

  • TV is generally a huge waste of time and energy (this IS Lifehacker, right? About productivity and efficiency, was it?) and I have no time for Dr Who. Foxtel would be a huge waste of both time and money. Anything I might want to watch I can’t get on free to air I’ll download illegally.

    Stick THAT up your business model, Rupert.

  • “I fully support that Dr Who does contribute to a sense of national identity and pride of being an Australian.”

    I don’t know how you work THAT out. WTF does Dr Who have to do with Australian national identity? Largely Brit actors blundering around the spacetime continuum in a Pom phone box?

  • Since i object to PayTV in general (and refuse to pay outrageous amounts for it, though i’m happy to watch ads to be FULLY subsidized), and especially to exclusive content being locked into pay TV (if there is anti-siphoning for sport, why not for something that’s worth watching 😛 ).

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