Austar

Austar was an Australian telecommunications company. Its main business activity was subscription television but it has also been involved with internet access and mobile phones. It was founded in 1995 under the name Community Entertainment Television (CETV).[1][2]

Austar's television subscriber base grew to 747,148 (at 30 June 2010), making it the largest subscription television operator in regional and rural Australia. Austar provided subscription television services in a service area of approximately 2.4m homes, one-third of Australia's total homes, primarily using digital satellite technology. Austar also operated a digital cable network in Darwin.

Austar is now owned by Foxtel, which acquired the company in 2012.[3] Since the acquisition, Foxtel has progressively merged all operations into a national system. In mid-to-late 2013, Foxtel merged all accounts to Foxtel and removed the MyStar related online services. This was the last step in the merge. In November 2013, the Foxtel iQ units were made available with satellite connections for those who wished to replace their MyStar units. The transition was completed in 2014, when all Austar branding was replaced with the current Foxtel moniker. Austar was involved with providing services to Sega Channel in Australia in partnership with Namco Bandai Partners, a joint venture between Sega and Ozisoft.

Austar Communications
IndustryTelecommunications
PredecessorCETV, East Coast Television (ECTV)
SuccessorFoxtel
Founded1995[1]
Defunct24 May 2012
Headquarters,
Australia
Key people
John Porter, CEO
Mike Fries, chairman
ProductsDirect broadcast satellite
cable television
internet access (former)
mobile phone (former)
Websiteaustar.com.au

Foxtel takeover

On 11 July 2011, Austar announced that "it had entered into definitive transaction agreements with Liberty Global, Inc. (LGI) and Foxtel Management Pty Limited (Foxtel) under which Foxtel will acquire AUSTAR by a series of transactions including a scheme of arrangement (Scheme)."[4] This takeover involved a minority shareholder approval on 30 March 2012,[5] the approval of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission on 10 April 2012,[6] and has had approval from a Second Court Hearing.[7] The Austar shares were suspended on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) as of 16 April 2012,[8] and were delisted from the ASX on 27 April 2012.[4] The takeover was completed on 24 May 2012.[9]

Subscription television (Austar Television/Austar Digital)

Subscription Growth[10]
Year Subscribers
1998 300,000
2000 400,000
2004 443,000
2005 500,000+
2006 600,000+
2007 658,087
2008[11] 713,000
June 2010[12] 747,148
2011[13] 755,374

Austar's main business was subscription television, serving customers outside of the major metro areas. It took programming from both Foxtel and Optus services, and operates on a digital platform.

Austar Television was available in 2.4 million homes in regional areas of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia and all areas of Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Subscriber numbers to Austar Television were second behind Foxtel. Delivery methods include utilising the Optus C-Class Satellite Optus C1 and a digital cable network in Darwin.

On Demand (Featured)

Austar Featured on Demand used to deliver Austar shows – on demand – to the MyStar each week free of charge with a MyStar subscription. It has since been replaced by Foxtel on Demand.

Austar AnyWhere

Austar AnyWhere was Austar's online TV service, which allowed customers to watch or download full-length programs online. Austar Anywhere closed on 30 June 2013.

Austar MyStar Front
MyStar PVR

The MyStar personal digital recorder

MyStar was launched to existing subscribers in late 2007, with a general launch to both new and existing customers in February 2008.[14]

The last MyStar was the model T500. It was a four-tuner set-top box equipped with two satellite tuners and two terrestrial tuners available both for viewing and recording standard definition digital free-to-air services including full electronic program guide data for Seven Network, WIN Television, Prime Television and Network Ten. (ABC, SBS and ABC2 continue to be provided via satellite). However, only two tuners can be used because the processor is not capable of handling all four tuners at once.

It featureed a 160 GB hard drive, with 120 GB user accessible. It could record 60 hours of content. Because it is equipped with Macrovision copy protection, content saved to the MyStar cannot be transferred to other media (such as VHS or DVD) without the use of something such as a video stabiliser. It had support for Time shifting for up to one hour.[15]

Support for Dolby Digital Surround Sound was available on selected programming when connected to appropriate equipment, however the Mystar box wouldn't control the volume when using optical or coax, the volume had to be controlled by the device it was plugged into. It also had support for Closed Captioning and four different aspect ratios (4:3 Cropped, 16:9 Letterbox, 16:9 Postcard and 16:9 Widescreen). Both of these features were accessible through the remote's coloured buttons.[15]

It supported additional outputs not found on some of the standard decoders such as Component Video, as well as both coaxial and optical digital audio outputs. Support for Composite Video, S-Video and RF out were also available. It also had USB and Ethernet ports, but they didn't have a clear function as yet, and were likely to be used for updating the decoder.[15]

The MyStar Remote is similar to the standard Austar Digital remote, but it had the addition of buttons specific to recording and playing back video. It shared an almost identical design to the Foxtel iQ remote, with the exception that it has an Austar button instead of a Foxtel button, and there were no AV button.

Mystar remote
Austar MyStar Remote Control (Manufactured by Philips)

The next generation of MyStar, called MyStar HD, was launched on 15 November 2009, with installations beginning the following day. It had many advantages over its predecessor, most notably support for 1080i, HD programming. It included a 320 GB hard disk, a doubling over the 160 GB found in the original MyStar. Only 160 GB of this was available for recordings and other user-selected content, with the other 160 GB being reserved for OnDemand content, which launched in early 2010. MyStar HD also included an HDMI output, allowing HD content to be viewed in its native resolution. It had a model number of T600 and also a T601.

Austar planned to use MyStar HD as its cornerstone set-top box, with true video-on-demand launched in 2010, and more access to web content becoming available after that time, building up to a complete interface redesign for its set-top boxes in late 2011 or early 2012. Since the Foxtel acquisition, these plans have changed. The plan was originally to upgrade MyStar and phase it out in 2014, however in 2013 Foxtel decided to convert their IQHD units to satellite connections and made them available to "Austar" customers in November 2013. Foxtel had no plans to force current MyStar subscribers to replace their unit, if they don't wish, however they are offering upgrades to customers who wish to take advantage before the IQ3 launch in 2015.

Mystar criticism

MyStar had ongoing technical issues which have plagued the system since release; however, Austar have said that "they have a huge team of people that will actively jump onto any issues as soon as they are reported to the call centre". Some of the numerous bugs were The MyStar box regularly caused the screen to black out, recordings to fail, and the screen to freeze; it had also has been known to automatically switch itself off and on.[16]

Austar Mobile (mobile telephony)

Established in 2000, Austar Mobile offered mobile services via resale agreements with Optus [GSM] mobile network. After the closure of Telstra's CDMA network, Austar mobile would only offer services through Optus. Austarmobile, at 31 December 2009, had 19,970 customers.

On 23 February 2011, M2 bought the contracts and records for its mobile service from Austar for $2 million.

Dial-up internet (Austarnet)

Established in 2000, Austarnet outsourced its network to COMindico and was available across Australia.

As of 31 December 2009, Austarnet had 12,671 customers.

In August 2011, Austarnet announced its exit from the Internet business and indicated that services would be discontinued on 30 September 2011.[17]

Broadband internet (Austar Broadband)

Established in 2006, Austar Broadband operated as a trial network in Wagga Wagga[18] and Tamworth, New South Wales.[19]

Austar held the 2.5 & 3.5 GHz spectrum licences in regional Australia. This spectrum is ideally suited for WiMAX.

Austar/Unwired Alliance

In 2005, Austar United and wireless internet provider Unwired announced a deal to swap spectrum under either company's control to allow for interoperable wireless broadband services across the country. In 2006, Austar United and Unwired together with Soul Coverged Telecommunications formed AUSalliance for the purposes of obtaining funding from the Australian Government's Broadband Connect Infrastructure Program and rolling out a regional broadband network.[20]

Austar/Opel agreement

In 2008, Austar entered into an agreement to sell its 2.5 & 3.5 GHz spectrum licences to the OPEL consortium (Optus & Elders) for A$65 million and enter into a wholesale agreement with Optus for the resale of products operated by the OPEL consortium.[21] The sale was contingent on the OPEL network rollout, so was cancelled upon the cancellation of the OPEL network by the Australian Government.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Brewster, Deborah (3 November 1997). "Pay TV Goes Bush". The Australian. p. 40.
  2. ^ Lipari, Kathy (10 September 1996). "Pay-TV – a new Austar is born". Daily Telegraph. Sydney. p. 23.
  3. ^ Kermond, Clare (24 May 2012). "Foxtel-Austar merger finalised". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b "About the Foxtel Proposal – Foxtel Proposal – Austar United". 'Austar United'. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Austar shareholders approve Foxtel takeover". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  6. ^ "ACCC Approve Foxtel / Austar merger". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  7. ^ "12-04-13 AUSTAR notes Second Court Hearing Approval" (PDF). 'Austar United'. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Suspension from official quotation" (PDF). 'ASX'. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Foxtel completes Austar merger". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  10. ^ Austar United – History Archived 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ At 30 September 2008
  12. ^ "Austar profit tumbles". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  13. ^ "Austar subscribers drop as profit rises". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  14. ^ Austar United Press Release – MyStar revolutionises regional Australian TV Archived 19 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b c [1] Archived 13 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ http://warrnambool.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/costly-star-fails-to-shine-service-full-of-bugs/1322990.aspx
  17. ^ [2] Archived 31 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Austar United Press Release: http://www.austarunited.com.au/pdf/06-06-08%20AUSTAR%20Broadband%20launch%20release%20-%20final.pdf
  19. ^ Austar United Press Release: http://www.austarunited.com.au/pdf/06-11-28%20AUSTAR%20broadband%20arrives%20in%20Tamworth.pdf
  20. ^ Austar United Press Release: http://www.austarunited.com.au/pdf/06-03-29%20AUSTAR%20_%20Soul%20partner%20for%20regional%20b'dband%20network.pdf
  21. ^ Austar United Press Release Archived 19 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine

External links

Bio (Australian TV channel)

Bio (stylised as bio., formerly The Biography Channel) was an Australian general entertainment channel available on Australia's Foxtel, Austar and Optus Television pay television services.

In 2014, the channel rebranded with a new on-air look, logo and programming. In addition, the channel moved from channel 117 to channel 133.On 1 November 2015, the channel closed, ceasing transmission at 4am, with selected titles moved to other Foxtel-owned channels.

C7 Sport

C7 Sport was a pay-TV service in Australia, owned and run by Seven Network. The service was carried on the Austar and Optus Vision pay-TV networks between 1995 and 2002. Seven unsuccessfully pursued court action against competitors, seeking damages of $480 million, but lost the case and was described by the judge as exhibiting "more than a hint of hypocrisy" in regard to the issue of price-ramping of broadcast rights.

Discovery Home

Discovery Home can mean:

Discovery Home or Discovery Home & Leisure, a U.S digital cable channel founded in 1998 and relaunched as Planet Green; currently Destination America

Discovery Home & Health, a UK television channel formally known as Discovery Health

FX (Australian TV channel)

FX was an Australian subscription television channel which focused on male-skewed television shows. The channel is owned and operated by Fox Networks Group and launched on 26 February 2012 on both Foxtel and Austar platforms.On 12 June 2012 it was reported that a two-hour timeshift channel (FX + 2) would launch on 3 July 2012, but this was retracted for it to be later reported that it would launch on 6 September 2012.On 28 February 2018, FX ceased broadcasting on Foxtel, with all of its programming moved to Fox Showcase.

Fox8

Fox8 (corporately stylised as FOX8, alternatively as Fox 8 or FOX 8) is an Australian pay television channel available on Foxtel, and Optus Television's subscription platforms. It is the most watched subscription television channel in Australia (with or without the timeshift) and broadcasts the highest rating non-sporting related program or event on subscription television in Australia, Australia's Next Top Model. A high definition version of the channel, Fox8HD, was launched on the Foxtel and Austar platforms on 15 November 2009.

Fox Footy Channel

The Fox Footy Channel was a channel exclusively dedicated to Australian rules football. It was owned by Foxtel and operates out of their Melbourne based studios. From 2002 - 2006 it was available on Foxtel, Austar, Optus Television, TransTV and Neighbourhood Cable until transmission ceased on 1 October 2006. The channel was revived as Fox Footy for the 2012 AFL season after a new broadcast agreement was reached between Fox Sports and the AFL.

Foxtel

Foxtel Management Pty Limited is an Australian pay television company, operating in cable television, direct broadcast satellite television, and IPTV streaming services. It was formed in 1995 through a joint venture established between News Corporation (now the present day News Corp; through News Limited, now News Corp Australia) and Telstra, with News Corp being the 65% and Telstra the 35% shareholders respectively. It shares many features with the Sky service in the United Kingdom, including iQ, the electronic program guide, a similar remote control, and Red Button Active.

HOW TO Channel

HOW TO Channel was an Australian cable and satellite television channel. It was carried on the Foxtel Digital, Optus TV featuring Foxtel Digital and Austar Digital platforms. It was owned by Premier Media Group, a 50/50 joint venture of Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and News Corporation.

The channel mainly featured a range of DIY style programs. Technology programming sourced from TechTV and G4 from the United States, such as The Lab with Leo Laporte, Attack of the Show, and Call for Help also was carried on the network.

In December 2010, Foxtel announced that the How To Channel will cease on 1 March 2011, and will be replaced with LifeStyle HOME, a brand new channel completely dedicated to home and property. It will include programming from the current main Lifestyle Channel in addition to some existing programs from the How To Channel. This will be the third subsidiary channel for LifeStyle. Lifestyle HOME will broadcast on Foxtel/Austar digital channel 119 on both cable and satellite. Upon that, How To Channel was ceased airing overnight on 1 March 2011 around 4:00 am, to make room for Lifestyle HOME.

Max (Australian TV channel)

Max is an Australian music channel formerly known as musicMAX prior to 14 March 2004, available on Foxtel, Austar and Optus Television. The distinctive MAX logo was designed by Australian designer director, Domenico Bartolo of 21-19.

Optus Television

Optus Television is the cable television division of Australian telecommunications company Optus.

Showtime Movie Channels

Showtime Movie Channels was an Australian pay-TV movie service, available on the Foxtel, Optus and Austar TV platforms. The service consisted of five original channels (showtime premiere, showcase, showtime action, showtime comedy, showtime drama), three HD simulcasts (showtime premiere HD, showcase HD, showtime action HD) and two timeshift channels (showtime two, showcase two). It was owned and operated by the Premium Movie Partnership (PMP), a joint venture in which Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Viacom, News Corporation and Liberty Global had equal shares. Foxtel took over managing and producing the Showtime channels as of 31 October 2012, with it purchasing assets of the PMP. On 9 December 2012, it was announced that Movie Network and Showtime (with the exception of Showcase) would be replaced with a new line-up of Foxtel branded movie channels to be named Foxtel MoviesThe main competitor to Showtime is Movie Network Channels.

Sky News Weather Channel

Sky News Weather Channel is an Australian satellite television channel owned by Australian News Channel, a subsidiary of News Corp Australia. Launched on January 1, 1999, the channel broadcasts weather forecasts and weather-related news and analysis 24 hours a day.

SNWC runs on a 15-minute menu of local, national, regional, dam level and rainfall forecasts, as well as continuous coverage of extreme weather if required.

Sky News Weather Channel also simulcasts live the Sky News on WIN-produced breakfast program Headline News along with that channel on weekdays from 6am to 8:30am.

Speed (Australian TV network)

Speed was an Australian satellite and cable television sports network dedicated to motorsport. The network was owned by Fox Sports Pty Limited and launched on 1 November 2010. It is a sister of the now defunct US channel of the same name, although it is no longer corporately connected due to the split of News Corporation, as Fox Sports Australia is included in News Corp and not 21st Century Fox.

On 2 November 2014, Speed closed and was replaced by Fox Sports 5.

Subscription television in Australia

Subscription television in Australia consists of a dominant cable and satellite television provider Foxtel, with several smaller cable and satellite service providers operating in limited geographic areas. Other providers of Internet television in Australia offer free content or pay-per-view, but do not offer a subscription service.

In 2012, only about 28% of Australian homes had a pay TV subscription, which is one of the lowest subscriber rates in the developed world. However, this rate is expected to rise from new delivery methods IPTV and streaming television services, including Apple TV, Netflix, Presto, Stan and Quickflix.

TVN (Australian TV channel)

TVN (Thoroughbred Vision) was an Australian thoroughbred horse-racing TV channel. It was carried on Foxtel, Austar and Optus TV, as well as other subscription TV services. The channel was set up by the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry and Sydney metropolitan racing clubs as an alternative to Sky Racing and as an attempt by the racing clubs concerned "to capture the valuable assets of racing media rights and leverage them to the benefit of racing".TVN was 50% owned by Victorian racings organisations Melbourne Racing Club, Victoria Racing Club, Moonee Valley Racing Club and Country Racing Victoria; and 50% by the Sydney-based, Australian Turf Club. It launched in May 2005 and ceased almost 10 years later in March 2015.

XYZnetworks

XYZnetworks was an Australian media company that owned, operated and distributed eleven subscription television channels in Australia. XYZnetworks was jointly owned by Foxtel and Austar. Based in Sydney, they had roughly 170 employees, with offices in North Ryde.Some of the channels owned by XYZnetworks included:

Arena

Channel [V]

Country Music Channel

MAX

The LifeStyle Channel and LifeStyle HD (a high definition simulcast)

LifeStyle Food

LifeStyle Home

LifeStyle You

The Weather Channel Australia

[V] Hits (formerly Channel [V]2 and Club [V]).XYZnetworks also distributed Discovery Channel and jointly owned Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. XYZ operated Arena until 1 October 2007, when it became a channel wholly operated by parent company Foxtel, with XYZ still owning the channel.

On 24 May 2012, Foxtel and Austar merged resulting in Foxtel wholly owning XYZ Networks, resulting in Foxtel closing XYZ and moving all channels to Foxtel Networks.

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