Competitors protest Telstra's dominance on content

NBN enhances competition for infrastructure, but doesn't stop content exclusives, says CCC.

A group of Telstra competitors called for more content regulation in Australia, in a report released today.

The report suggests there's “a strong case for such issues to be subject to early detailed regulatory scrutiny and legislative change in Australia consistent with the approaches of foreign country markets but acknowledging the high degree of market concentration in Australia requires early and decisive regulation”.

Also, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should widen its focus on IPTV “to also account the growth of tablets and other wireless-connected devices,” said the report’s author Scott Minehane.

The CCC is an industry association representing “non-dominant telecommunications carriers” in the fixed line, mobile, residential, corporate, government, voice and data markets. Members are: Macquarie Telecom, iiNet, NextGen, Vodafone Hutchison Australia, TransACT, Internode and Adam Internet—which is pending acquisition by Telstra.

“Great strides have been made in recent years in addressing the historic problems of Telstra owning the monopoly fixed line phone and broadband network—so called vertical integration,” CCC chairman Matt Healy said.

“However, the CCC has always argued that this was not the whole problem underlying the uniquely weak competition in Australian communications markets,” he said.

“The ownership and exclusive control of the distribution of content, especially premium sports programming—so called horizontal integration—has been a serious barrier to effective competition and is another area where Australian consumers have historically been disadvantaged compared to people in other countries.”

The NBN improves infrastructure competition but telcos that are able to secure exclusive content, especially sports, have greater power to win customers, said Minehane.

“While there’s no single foreign regulatory model which is an exemplar for Australia, there’s a strong case when we look at all the elements internationally that the Australian regulatory model is suboptimal and arguably out of date for that convergence world which we are rapidly heading into.”

Computerworld Australia has contacted Telstra for comment.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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Tags ContentTelstraTelcoiiNetcompetitive carriers coalitionAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)CarriersVodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA)competitionexclusivescompetitors

More about Adam InternetAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionHutchisonIinetInternodeMacquarie TelecomNextGenScott CorporationTelstra CorporationVodafone

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