ASTRA 2012 highlights the rising impact of Subscription TV

26 March, 2012 by IF

Press release from ASTRA

Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) closed the ASTRA 2012 Conference, themed Driving Change, with key take outs including:


• Australia is positioned as one of the five top countries to watch over the next five years for growth in Subscription TV.

• The NBN is creating a healthy competition matrix which will drive creation of original programming, innovation and storytelling. Subscription TV is pitched perfectly to seize these opportunities.

• The media landscape doesn’t need subsidies, it thrives on competition and government regulation should be reduced.

• Emergence of new business models such as the marriage between ‘content and data’ and ‘content and distribution’.

• Consumers are engaging with media in new and exciting ways through multiple devices across multiple platforms anytime, everywhere.

• The acknowledgement of a new era and change in the Subscription TV landscape. Commencing with The ASTRA Women in TV Breakfast, food publishing phenomenon Donna Hay and Tiffany Cherry, former track and field athlete, and now highly regarded sports presenter, producer, reporter and TV personality, with moderator Helen Dalley inspired over 600 professionals from across the TV landscape. A sold out event, this year ASTRA donated a portion of ticket sales to The Butterfly Foundation, whose aims are to bring about change to the culture, policy and practice in the prevention, treatment and support of those affected by eating disorders and negative body image.

Donna Hay and Tiffany Cherry shared their experiences on the pathway to success: “Be passionate about what you do – especially in this industry – you will be found out if you are not because you have to work so hard at it. The ultimate thing is to be honest with yourself and when opportunities come, follow what you want to do. Passion will drive you and take you above and beyond all those hard times,” said Tiffany Cherry.

“Don’t let anyone steal your dream. It’s your dream and while people may say ‘you can’t do it’ or put brick walls in your way, those are just opinions and usually come from people who are insecure about their own position. Seek out people who are really supportive and will embrace you and encourage you,” continued Tiffany Cherry.

“When I produced my first marie claire cook book, it was all white on white. I got called in to Jackie Frank’s office and she told me that the French (head office) didn’t want it to hit the shelves. They tested it and hated it. It was alarming news, you can imagine. They let us publish it in Australia, and 800 copies sold out quickly, then it spread to sell millions of copies worldwide,” said Donna Hay

“I think the most important thing about having a great brand is that financial motivation comes way down on the list. Stay true to your core brand and to what you want to achieve.” continued Donna Hay.

Fresh from London, with a global perspective, Kevin MacLellan, President, International Television, NBCUniversal International sparked lively discussion with his comments around why the STV industry in Australia is a growth market and one to watch.

“In Australia you have a really high GDP, with the potential for a very high ARPU particularly when you are looking at a triple play package, which was unimaginable 12 years ago. And you have the ability to drive significant revenues because your penetration right now is lower than it is
elsewhere in the world, with similar economics. So, to me I look at it and I say, even if you just raise penetration 20% that's a home run. So, I would put Australia right there in my top five countries to pay attention to over the next five years and there is a lot of economic factors as to
why that makes sense to me,” said Kevin MacLellan, President, International Television, NBCUniversal International.

Richard Freudenstein delivered his debut address as FOXTEL Chief Executive Officer and announced today that its history making broadcast of the LONDON 2012 Olympic Games will be available to every FOXTEL cable and satellite residential sports subscriber at no additional cost.

“I am delighted to announce that FOXTEL will offer our full Olympic Games coverage at no extra charge to every FOXTEL residential sports subscriber. We will produce the best coverage of the Olympic Games in our country’s broadcast history. We are making it available across eight High
Definition and Standard Definition digital channels, and we are doing all of this at no additional charge for our residential sports customers.

“FOXTEL’s commitment to this groundbreaking coverage of LONDON 2012 is a great example of how we are continuing to innovate and add value for our consumers. This investment is a massive increase in what we offer for a FOXTEL subscription, said Richard Freudenstein, CEO, FOXTEL.

Penny Chapman (Producer, The Straits, The Slap), Mark Joffe (Director, The Man Who Sued God, Cosi, Dripping in Chocolate ) and Imogen Banks (Producer, Offspring, Tangle) in discussion with The Australian’s Michael Bodey drove discussion about the evolving nature of drama programming on television, expectations of viewers and how the creative process is changing.

“Part of our issue is we are a little country. We are punching well above our weight but the challenge for us is in the development area,” said Penny Chapman.

Kim Williams, former FOXTEL CEO and now the Chief Executive of News Limited was awarded the prestigious Pioneer Award by The Hon Steve Bracks, AC, Chairman of ASTRA in recognition of the outstanding achievements and contribution he has made in the STV industry.

“The legacy of this year’s recipient will live on through the vast array of content and services that are enjoyed by countless Australian consumers, making him a true pioneer in the industry,” said the Hon Steve Bracks, AC, Chairman of ASTRA.

“I am delighted to receive the reward. It recognises that we have built a company and sector that is bigger, better and stronger than we found it. We’ve created thousands of jobs for great Australian talent, and awarded both our viewers and our shareholders,” said Kim Williams, Chief Executive of News Limited.

FOX SPORTS Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Delany, shared first hand expertise and insights into innovation in sports broadcasting, most recently highlighted by the launch of FOX FOOTY, a new dedicated 24-hour AFL channel in HD, which will feature game commentary by iconic AFL
personality Eddie McGuire.

On the cusp of the ACCC announcement, John Porter delivered what could be his final presentation as Chief Executive Officer of AUSTAR, reflecting on the great partnerships between AUSTAR and the rest of the industry that have been so critical to the AUSTAR story and their succesS.

“As you are all aware this is a pretty important moment in our history. The gossip of the day at last year's ASTRA conference was the possibility of an AUSTAR and FOXTEL merger. At the end of May we announced FOXTEL's indicative bid and in July the final deal was waiting for a sign of
the ACCC's approval and subsequent shareholder vote. The ACCC started its official review in late May 2011 and since then a lot has happened. Osama bin Laden has been captured and killed. K Rudd has come and gone as a Prime Ministerial contender. 14 AUSTAR babies have been conceived, 44,320 trees have been destroyed, and 300 lawyers have been made a lot richer.

"More recently, the debacle of the Australia network tender and massive lost opportunity of the Convergence Review are examples of what happens when government is intent on choosing winners instead of allowing the market to play out,” said John Porter, CEO AUSTAR.

Mike Quigley, Chief Executive Officer, NBN Co shared insights into how the NBN will impact demand by consumers for premium quality content. Discussion arose around its impact on piracy; the convergence of media and communications technologies to offer opportunity to encourage
competition and innovation to deliver a more diverse range of content and services to Australians; and the NBN’s impact on traditional distribution models.

“More of us are going online in more ways, for more time, to consume richer content. The model for NBN Co is a government business enterprise. Maximising profit is not our job. Our job is to provide the very lowest prices we can in return for fixed return to the government. Build as prudently as we can and drive down prices as much as possible,” said Mike Quigley, CEO, NBN Co.

Breakout sessions on Understanding the STV Audience, IPTV, Production & Promotion in a 3 Screen World and Break-Through Advertising Campaigns were filled to capacity, prompting discussion and debate from both panelists and the floor.

The ASTRA Industry Excellence Awards were presented at the closing of the Conference recognising individuals, channels and agencies creating ground breaking and innovative marketing campaigns within the Australian STV industry.

“The ASTRA Industry Excellence Awards distinguish the high calibre marketing and promotional work and profile of subscription TV. The recipients of these awards should be proud in the knowledge that their efforts are transforming the way that Australian’s perceive subscription TV,”
said ASTRA CEO Petra Buchanan.