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The Foxtel Fiasco - Movie Network Channels

04/01/2013

On the 1st January 2013, Foxtel Australia, 50% of which is owned by Murdoch's New Corp, altered the service they were giving to their clients. Clients had been told in the week preceding the change to expect great things from the reworking of their Movie Channels package. The resulting change has proved to be a potential PR disaster for the Company. (Note: The ACCC approved New Corp's takeover of Consolidated Media Holdings Limited in 2012 improving their share percentage from 25% to 50%.)

The most affected are the clients on the Platinum packages because they are now left with a Basic Movie Package. (Foxtel insist it is better because they are all HD channels.) Channels have been dropped and movies are constantly being repeated on the channels that are left. (Foxtel say that this is because they now offer "Catch UP" and clients can connect to the Internet and download (via their own ISP) any movies they miss. This decision will cost their clients money for downloading Foxtel's movies.)

Previously there were two "new to DVD" channels, now there is only one. Which means that Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights instead of two free new movies there is one. There were 15 movie channels and now only 12.

Two years ago Foxtel did something similar to their Platinum package clients when they removed the two free "new release" movies per month from the package. Platinum clients had to pay for all "new release" films from that time on.

Platinum clients pay approximately $130 a month. They are not being offered a discount for the cut down service that has been forced upon them.

Couple that with the fact that there are now increasingly more and more ads playing in the middle of series episodes, with the same ads constantly being repeated, and you can see what Platinum clients have to gripe about. And gripe they have; Foxtel's Facebook page erupted shortly after the change over with angry clients demanding a reduction in fees and it is still erupting four days later.

Austar clients, taken over by Foxtel last year, appear to be having an even worse time. Apparently, there is no access for them to "On Demand" movies or "Catch Up" and are being told to "watch this space" while being offered no reduction in fees. (This takeover was also approved by the ACCC.)

So, why has this been such a potential PR disaster? Because there is also a customer service issue, as until today, Foxtel were not answering questions on Facebook despite the deluge of questions being asked. And, unfortunately, when the answers started to appear they were unsatisfactory as they definitely had a Foxtel spin to them. There was one employee on Facebook who insulted clients by calling them fat and stupid. Those posts have been deleted and the offending employee is not posting anymore. That aside, anyone that has tried to get good customer service from Foxtel knows that it is haphazard at best.

Clients have stated the ads are worse but also they now have the volume turned up during ads, something free to air have always done, but hardly civilized for Pay TV. Clients say they are sick of the constant repeats of shows like Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, Sex and the City, etc. and also sick of the constant repeat of the ads themselves.

Foxtel has also taken away the tool used to preview what was scheduled to run over the coming week and substituted it with an app that only works on iPad or androids. Those without that type of device get no service. They have discontinued their hardcopy TV guide. In short, they are putting more and more emphasis on Internet downloads and not coming up with a wide coverage of apps to assist all clients.

People that live in areas that require a Satellite disk receive only the ABC and SBS while people that live in cabled areas receive Channels ABC, SBS, 10, 9 and 7. Satellite clients are not offered any discount.

People that do not have a landline cannot book an "On Demand" film through their boxset, or interact with Foxtel at all. These clients have to book movies through their phones or PCs. They are not offered a discount.

Foxtel clients are rightfully upset because over the last four or five years they have seen the service on offer disintegrate before their eyes while they are forced to continue to pay the same subscription fee. This last change appears to be the straw that may break the camel's back.