Led by the latest warrior of justice Waleed Ali, Malcolm Turnbull’s ridiculously inferior NBN has come under heavy criticism over the past few days.
Turnbull, of course, has been shrugging off the attacks and continues to stand his ground. For as long as he or the Liberal Party remain in power, Australians will not be getting an adequate NBN.
You must often wonder why Turnbull, his predecessor, and his party were determined to deliver a substandard NBN. You must also wonder why the needs of (at least) Australian businesses are completely ignored. Australia now belongs in a global economy and a global market. To compete, we need to have at our disposal the communication systems that are of world standards. We clearly don’t have that, and this government is adamant that we never will.
Why are they so adamant?
Perhaps the answer can be found in an AIMN article from 2013. Given that the attacks on Turnbull’s NBN have been dominating social media, it is pertinent to reproduce the guts of it here.
To me it answers the question of why the government is so adamant that we will be getting an inferior NBN.
I believe it is for the benefit of Rupert Murdoch. Our article explains why.
. . . in the months leading up to the (2013) election The Age noted Murdoch’s vicious attacks on Rudd echoing that:
News Corp hates the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN). The company has formed a view that it poses a threat to the business model of by far its most important asset in Australia, the Foxtel cable TV monopoly it jointly owns with Telstra.
The claim found its way to the top office in the land, with even Kevin Rudd recognising that:
Murdoch’s views on the election campaign largely mirrored those of conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott, who has promised to downsize the planned broadband network.
“Does he sense it represents a commercial challenge to Foxtel, to the major cash-cow for his company, or not?” asked Rudd, referring to the planned broadband network.
The British press had picked up that it was evident that the destructive attacks by the Murdoch media against the Labor Government:
The reason for Murdoch’s dramatic intervention in the current election has caused some debate. One interpretation of Murdoch is that he acts only for commercial advantage. Reflecting this, Paul Sheehan in the Sun-Herald argued that Murdoch wants to destroy Rudd and Labor because they are building the National Broadband Network (NBN). The NBN’s capacity to allow the quick downloading of movies and other content would be a threat to Murdoch’s Foxtel TV operation, so the argument goes.
This of course was scoffed at by Tony Abbott.
Mr Murdoch has immense financial interests in this country. Naturally he wants to protect them. Even nurture them. Murdoch could only have supported the Coalition for no other reason than they offered the best deal in protecting those interests. They simply have no other policy that could have possibly attracted his fanatical support. It had to be the NBN. Or the destruction of it, more’s the point.
Respected citizen journalist and IT expert Kieran Cummings writing on the No Fibs blog site took a deeper look at how the NBN would have been detrimental to Murdoch’s business interests in Australia. He revealed all in his telling article, Why Murdoch’s media is gunning for your NBN and begins with:
It seems a day doesn’t go by where articles are being posted to News Limited (Murdoch) websites with nothing but negative spin for the NBN. Most, if not all, are founded on poorly constructed arguments that ignore technology & the reality. They all seem to point to one solution: anything the Coalition are saying they’ll deploy.
While this does reek of patent bias amongst Murdoch’s Australian arm, I feel this goes a little deeper than just wanting a Coalition government, but a fear of becoming obsolete in the age of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television).
While FTTN (Fibre to the Node) can offer basic IPTV, it cannot offer multi-set full HD broadcasting as FTTH/P (Fibre to the Home/Premises) can. With this in mind, it doesn’t take long before it’s apparent the likes of Comcast & Time-Warner in the US, are bleeding subscribers or seeing a slowdown in subscriber uptake due to internet streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon’s Prime service.
While we haven’t seen a drop in subscribers here in Australia, there has been a slowdown in subscriber uptake that is sending a message direct to News Limited/Fox: kill off any advancements in broadband speeds before it kills off your business model.
It’s clear that content producers aren’t fazed by IPTV service providers, with Netflix in the US signing up many studios/channels to their service, & FetchTV offering a number of non-Fox channels for a fraction of the cost of Foxtel on Xbox/Smart TV (Foxtels pure IPTV service).
So where does that leave the likes of Foxtel in such an open market? Well, on the pointy end of a large stick. Murdoch & his ilk aren’t prepared for digital TV distribution, much like they weren’t prepared for digital news distribution & digital music distribution. Instead of being agile enough to deal with new technologies, pay TV providers have gone for the “entrench the customer” model that has not only failed for other mediums in the past, but turned customers away from their offerings.
Abbott won the election and anybody who followed Rupert Murdoch on Twitter couldn’t have helped but notice his elation. And with his business interests secure he hadn’t waited long to confirm the suspicions of those labelled ‘conspiracy theorists’ when The Australian reported that:
Foxtel has muscled up in the battle with the free-to-air television sector over Netflix-style “video on demand” subscription services, the pay-TV operator unveiling a new platform offering extensive movie content over the internet.
The new streaming service – to be called Presto – is seen as a pre-emptive strike against likely moves in coming months by Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment Co to offer their own versions of subscription movie platforms. It will also further build the pay-TV operator’s muscle against players such as Quickflix and Fetch TV.
How convenient. And how insightful was Kieran Cummings? And how intuitive were the British press in recognising how ‘the NBN’s capacity to allow the quick downloading of movies and other content would be a threat to Murdoch’s Foxtel TV operation.
Murdoch can now make a “massive” $24.99 off of each Australian who signed up for Presto. That certainly was worth backing Abbott for.
The links in the above articles are now a few years old. But not this one: in 2015 Murdoch’s Foxtel launched a pre-emptive strike against Netflix with Presto TV.
The pieces are coming together. That’s the best reason I can find why Australians are left with a broken, inferior, soon-to-be- obsolete NBN.
Thank you, Mr Murdoch. Thank you, Mr Abbott. Thank you, Mr Turnbull.
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