Telstra to bring Foxtel to T-Box

The ties between Telstra and Foxtel have run deep for many years

Telstra chief executive David Thodey tonight revealed that the telco was talking with its joint venture partner Foxtel to bring the payTV service to Telstra's T-Box internet television platform launched last month.

“I'm delighted to say that we're working with Foxtel to put Foxtel content on the T-box as well,” Thodey said at a ritzy party in Sydney tonight to launch the T-Box -- attended by True Blood star, Aussie actor Ryan Kwanten.

“Kim Williams is here somewhere,” Thodey laughed, referring to the Foxtel chief executive. Foxtel sells pay TV services over satellite and Telstra's HFC cable network, and will continue to do so, even though Telstra will cease to sell broadband services over the network as part of its deal with the company which is building and operating the National Broadband Network.

The ties between Telstra and Foxtel have run deep for many years. The pay TV operator was established in 1995 and is a joint venture between Telstra – which owns 50 percent of the company – and News Corporation and Consolidated Media Holdings, which own 25 percent of the company each.

Foxtel content is available, for example, on mobile phones on Telstra's Next G network, but not through other mobile networks. However, Foxtel has also long had a content sharing arrangement with rival payTV provider Optus.

The news comes as Telstra and Foxtel look to have been increasing the closeness of their ties. In early June it was revealed that the pay TV operator had asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to let it provide what appears to be Telstra content (normally provided through the T-Box) through its iQ and iQ2 set-top boxes on the condition that customers have a broadband connection with Telstra.

The move may breach the Trade Practices Act – which broadly prohibits one company from requiring a customer have a relationship with another company before selling them a service.

But Foxtel is also looking to provide its content through other channels such as Microsoft's Xbox LIVE platform – announcing in late May that Australians would be able to watch Foxtel programs on their Xbox 360 console from the end of the year. And Telstra too is diversifying its content partnerships through the T-Box.

“Suddenly we're opening up this whole, wonderful area of great television – we're also working with a number of other providers to make sure it has this great experience going forward,” said Thodey tonight of the T-Box.

The news also comes as rival telcos such as iiNet are simultaneously launching internet video (IPTV) platforms -- iiNet demonstrated its platform to journalists in Sydney today.

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