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Looks Like Austar Customers Miss Out Again

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$120 a month and upwards buys quite a few HD movies and HD TV/doco's on bluray from OS, not to mention the availability of all American HD TV online. Possibly the monthly fee could be spent elsewhere?

Once the NBN is rolled out these providers will have more competition from online HD providers, so let them p!ss their customer base off... they won't have as many soon.

JSmith :ninja:

Blue Ray isn't really the solution for the things I miss on Discovery and Nat Geo (neither of which I have in HD) and these are the channels I'd most like to have. We do watch some HD movies but I'm more into factual programming than entertainment.

I agree with your comments about the NBN and (barring Abbott getting into power) this provides me with some hope. Alas, my ADSL2 speeds are pretty marginal for watching any video in HD quality...but this is a separate discussion! However, for now my realistic choices are Austar or nothing.

To Fairybread, I guess everybody's likes and experiences are different. Our Mystar HD boxes (we have two) are certainly less reliable than yours. Ours decide to reboot themselves at random probably twice a week each on average--and freeze up (causing us to do a manual reboot) quite often as well. We miss quite a few recordings because of this--and have other little niggles about slow responses to control inputs. We're on our 3rd box in one room and 2nd in the other and they both have a different set of foibles.

The true solution to all this is to simply outlaw the present area-based monopoly situation and force Austar and Foxtel to compete head on everywhere.

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The true solution to all this is to simply outlaw the present area-based monopoly situation and force Austar and Foxtel to compete head on everywhere.

There is nothing to outlaw.. F & A don't compete because they have a 'gentleman's agreement' not to. If there was a signed document somewhere, then you might have a case.

And how can you force them to compete?

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Many countries, including Australia, have laws that prohibit just such "gentleman's agreements" where they negatively impact the consumer. If the ACCC and/or ACMA had the consumer's best interest at heart, they could and should rule the gentleman's agreement to be anticompetitive and illegal.

No, I'm not holding my breath waiting for this to happen--but I have filed a formal complaint with both Foxtel and Austar...and copied it the the ACCC.

I'm not expecting anything to happen--but if I get any sort of meaningful reply, I'll let the forum know.

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I don't get all the angst toward Austar. For $80 bucks a month I get the MyStar HD basic package and the sports package which is more channels than I have time to watch. I have access to On Demand and Special Events features.

I have to reset the box once every 6-8 weeks - no biggy. It's never missed a recording. PQ is great. FTA channels are integrated so no fiddling with two PVRs. UI is pretty good and its easy to use (it's survived the kid, wife and mother inlaw test).

Why do those with FoxTel think they are getting a superior product and more to the point why are they so rightous and snipy about it?

You must have one of the only good ones out there! I have a couple of mates back home with Mystar HD's and they have to reset them at least once every week. Not to mention the stupid problem with the FTA tuners in the box that insist on tuning into the weakest signal available making that side of the unit totally useless. They have spent hours on the phone trying to get Austar to address this problem without any success. Why on earth would they pre-program the box to scan every FTA channel in use in the entire state is beyond me. Surely they could have set the thing up so the installer could have locked the FTA channels to only the ones being used locally at the install site but oh no not Austar and now they know they have a problem its head back in the sand time for them. As a comparison I have had the same IQ2 box now since October 2009 and it's been used for recording everything at home and as yet has not missed a beat or needed any resets. As an ex Austar victim I find that fact totally amazing while sadly people who have always lived here just take that sort of reliability for granted.

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Many countries, including Australia, have laws that prohibit just such "gentleman's agreements" where they negatively impact the consumer. If the ACCC and/or ACMA had the consumer's best interest at heart, they could and should rule the gentleman's agreement to be anticompetitive and illegal.

Not sure about that. Where two companies provide services to the same area, there's definitely laws to prevent them from having "Gentlemen's Agreements". However you generally can't force a company to provide services to someone - the only exception I can think of is Telstra (and now the NBN) and that's because a telephone is considered an essential service.

That said, I find it strange that users can't sign up for satelite reception (Or do satelitle boxes still need some connection back to Foxtel via landline?)

Regards

Peter Gillespie

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Yep, can't say I agree with the Mystar HD being a good product. I've had it since inception, it is slow and seems to get slower by the day. I was advised not to keep my hard drive more than 50% full if I want to avoid this, which I have and it does make a difference, but whats the point if you can only record to half of the drive. You press up on the screen and a 5 or a 7 shows up. I reset every other day. Some days I can get FTA channels, some days I get some, and nearly never get SBS HD. I've stopped phoning Austar because I just don't have the time to spend. When it works it is okay, even good. Pity it is so buggy and the channel selection is not that of Foxtel. Very disappointed about FX, some quality shows coming.

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**** you Austar JUST **** YOU!

I was recently in the USA and I got to watch the A&E network, great programming may I say. But imagine my shock when they announce A&E Australia and its only coming to Foxtel!

WHY? WHY? TELL ME ****ING WHY?

I want to take my set box and hurl it out my damn window. I've had enough of Austar rubbing it in our faces that we can't get Foxtel! I hope to GOD Foxtel absorbs Austar when the buy the ****ers out.

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**** you Austar JUST **** YOU!

I was recently in the USA and I got to watch the A&E network, great programming may I say. But imagine my shock when they announce A&E Australia and its only coming to Foxtel!

WHY? WHY? TELL ME ****ING WHY?

I want to take my set box and hurl it out my damn window. I've had enough of Austar rubbing it in our faces that we can't get Foxtel! I hope to GOD Foxtel absorbs Austar when the buy the ****ers out.

Agree - it really sucks, especially if your're a hd customer.

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I emailed Austar an email 2 days ago asking them why and this is the only part that matters

As a bit of background to this decision, right now it is very difficult for AUSTAR to make a long term commitment - like adding new channels – because last year FOXTEL made an offer to buy AUSTAR and we are still going through this process.

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So many hiccups in this merger business. Why is that toothless tiger the ACCC making it so hard? How can the merger be anti competitive when you have to have one or the other depending on where you live? Its an absolute joke. Bring it on already.

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So many hiccups in this merger business. Why is that toothless tiger the ACCC making it so hard? How can the merger be anti competitive when you have to have one or the other depending on where you live? Its an absolute joke. Bring it on already.

I suspect Austar has never competed with Foxtel because doing so would require it rolling out a duplicate cable network in the cities (just not feasible). However the ACCC has noted that if the NBN becomes widespread then the cost of distribution for Austar becomes tiny and it could compete directly based on its content and service. This is probably very true and if customers we're willing to wait another five years they might benefit a lot from having Austar and Foxtel finally be able to go toe to toe. But its based on a pretty big what if and legally it would seem the ACCC are overreachinig their definition of competition by including such futuristic scenarios.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

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Why on earth would Austar require cable to compete in Foxtel areas? Nigh on identical service is available via satellite. Even Foxtel prefers to install sat rather than cable in premises that don't already have a cable drop installed.

If Austar went 'toe to toe' with Foxtel, Foxtel would steamroll it flat into the ground. Foxtel has far deeper pockets, has a far healthier balance sheet and has far more subscribers overwhich it can spread marginal expense.

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Why on earth would Austar require cable to compete in Foxtel areas? Nigh on identical service is available via satellite. Even Foxtel prefers to install sat rather than cable in premises that don't already have a cable drop installed.
Must admit I don't understand why satelite hasn't been used from the get go by PayTV. Just one bird in the sky would pretty much service all of Australia (Cost about $300 million). I'd be interested in any theories / tech reasons.
If Austar went 'toe to toe' with Foxtel, Foxtel would steamroll it flat into the ground. Foxtel has far deeper pockets, has a far healthier balance sheet and has far more subscribers overwhich it can spread marginal expense.
Foxtel and Austar have a fixed cost commodity (i.e their content). If they both had equal access to the entire Oz market then they'd be much more evenly matched IMO. The ACCC would no doubt keep an eye on Foxtel if it tried to steamroll its only competition.

Regards

Peter GiIlepsie

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I suggest you take a look at the parts of their balance sheets that are public. Foxtel is in a far healthier position than Austar is. Austar and Foxtel might have 'fixed costs' but they are are not identical per viewer. Simply exposing Austar to Foxtel would, IMO, in the long term cause the demise of Austar even if Foxtel did not react to Austar as a competitor. Foxtel has a demonstrably better product - better lineup of programming (Austar subscribers invariably wait months for new channels - which may never arrive - while Foxtel viewers have access), better set top boxes, more extensive subscriber facilities etc. ACCC wouldn't be able to prevent Foxtel steamrolling Austar flat, unless the Australian competition rules were re-written.

The reasons Foxtel rolled out cable are there if you care to take the time to find them. Those reasons do not compel nor even make it necessary for Austar to roll out a cable network if ACCC decided to void the agreement between Austar and Foxtel regarding service areas. Your suspicions are baseless.

Edited by DrP

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I emailed Austar an email 2 days ago asking them why and this is the only part that matters

One of the annoying things is that we see the adds for A&E and FX...just to tease!

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Out of curiosity Fairybread, why is it perceived as whinging to point out that Austar customers get a raw deal compared to Foxtel customers?

And, yes, there are definitely some HD channels on Foxtel that I'd love to see on Austar. I suspect that things like NatGeo and Discovery have some stuff that would be stunning in HD--but until something changes in the duopoly I'll never find out.

Last point: If I was an Austar shareholder, I'd be fuming at the way management handled the FX and A&E debacle. If they'd sorted it all out a few weeks earlier, Austar could have avoided a ton of negative publicity and months of "not available to Austar customers" captions. As things happened, these two new channels are perceived by most as a grudging "catch up" rather than an appreciated bonus.

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