Ex-Telstra Boss Denies Oz Pay-TV Conspiracy

23 March 2006

Former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski denied the telco had a hidden agenda in 2000 when it allegedly colluded with two Australian media giants to drive pay-TV channel C7 out of business.

The Sydney court, hosting one of the country's biggest media lawsuits, was shown detailed documents prepared by the telco on the benefits of using the Foxtel platform's set-top boxes to sell new Telstra services such as home and banking, personal video recording and games.

C7's parent, broadcaster Seven Network, alleges Telstra conspired with Rupert Murdoch's News Limited and the Packer clan's Publishing & Broadcasting to 'kill' C7 and create monopolies for Foxtel and Fox Sports, which was 50/50 owned by News Ltd and PBL.

Seven is suing the trio, plus several others, for A$1.1 billion ($813m; €680m; £459m) damages. It finally scrapped C7 in 2002 - the nail in the coffin being the channel's failure to win rights to show Australian Rules Football in 1999 and 2000.

Switkowski denied Telstra was so set on keeping News Ltd and PBL onside and reaping the benefits of selling new interactive services via Foxtel that it was prepared to go along with a plan to destroy C7.

The hearing continues.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff