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Sun-Herald

Pay TV audience doubles

Author: By DANIEL DASEY
Date: 28/02/1999
Words: 347
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: News
Page: 33
TWO million Australian homes will have access to pay television for the first time when a new satellite service is launched tomorrow.

Foxtel will almost double its potential viewing audience overnight by beginning transmission via the Optus B3 satellite into areas including Sydney, Newcastle, the central coast and Canberra.

The move is expected to swell the number of homes hooked up to pay TV, with more than 100,000 people on a Foxtel satellite waiting list. Freestanding houses will be serviced with dishes first, with other dwellings to be hooked up at a time yet to be determined.

Foxtel spokesman Mark Furness said yesterday the main areas to benefit from the new coverage would be regional centres and capital cities.

To hook up to the service, customers must sign a 12-month contract and pay a $199.95 installation fee, much more than the cable fee of up to $79.95. Technicians will then install a 65cm diameter rented satellite dish and a digital box for the customer's television.

The normal Foxtel program schedule can then be accessed.

In blocks of flats, a single dish could service all homes.

Foxtel also announced it was raising the cost of its basic service to cable customers by $2 to $44.95 a month.

Mr Furness said the rise was not related to the start of satellite transmission and that it was the first price rise in 18 months.

Foxtel cables are outside 2.5 million homes and the company has about 375,000 cable television customers.

It has also provided an interim satellite service to about 40,000 former Galaxy customers since Galaxy collapsed last year.

Mr Furness said the extra dishes were not expected to cause problems with local councils.

Foxtel has reached an agreement with rival Optus to use its B3 satellite for transmissions. Pay TV provider Austar operates the satellite with Optus and uses it to broadcast to its rural customers.

WHO'S WATCHING

(Approx. pay TV audiences)

Optus 200,000

Austar 300,000

Foxtel cable 375,000

Foxtel satellite 40,000 *

* Interim service offered to subscribers of defunct Galaxy.

 
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