Friday, November 24, 2006

Murdoch and Packer Punting on Broadband

Well, we've now had the daily double - Packer and Murdoch both decrying the state of broadband in Australia. It started with Murdoch who said "When you have broadband - real broadband, not the type they're talking about here - where you get, say, 20Mbps of data into your home, it changes everything. People then spend a lot of time with their laptops and computers. In Australia we only have a couple of million people on broadband and they don't even get 1Mb."

Packer followed last night saying "I think that Telstra is in ... is perfectly entitled to say that, you know, I want to make a commercial rate of return on the investment that I'm putting in. And if it such a good deal, why isn't someone else doing it? And to the extent that the Government wants, as the Government should want, a best practice broadband infrastructure, if the Government has got to do something to help Telstra get a commercial return.

Someone might like to explain the market structure in Australia in which Murdoch and Packer are joint venture partners with Telstra in a Pay TV business - leaving Australia devoid of the competition between fixed line telephone operators and Pay TV operators that some claim would see this change. Two leading economists Joshua Gans and Jerry Haussman argued in a recent AFR article Telstra should be required to divest its HFC network as part of T3.

Is this some orchestrated campaign by Packer and Murdoch with their Payy TV partner? Or is it some softening up for the Government concerned that broadband is becoming an election issue.

I guess the final word goes to Crikey who noted "You have to almost admire the hide of Rupert Murdoch, managing on the one platform to demand major tax cuts and that the government spend $10 billion to $12 billion on broadband that will just happen to help his own business. As one of the world’s biggest content providers, there’s plenty of self-interest riding for Rupert."

Or does the final word really belong to the Pay TV consortium under its original monicker of PMT?

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