Saga of Oz pay TV: high on bids, short on cash

The Australian government’s pay TV embarrassment deepened Thursday as the second pair of high bidders reneged on their offers.

After the first applicants, HiVision and UCOM, failed to meet the July 30 deadline to deliver checks for a total of $ A38.9 million ($ 26.5 million), the next highest bidders were immediately notified and told they had three working days to produce their 5% non-refundable deposits.

Junior Communications Minister David Beddall refused to divulgethe names pending their compliance, but as of Aug. 5 neither had paid up and so the process begins again.

Canberra sources confirm that companies closely associated with UCOM and HiVision have placed a number of bids of descending value. This means that the ensuing delay caused by the collapsing bids can be used in their so far unsuccessful attempts to gather the finance.

Industryites are predicting no result until mid-month at the earliest. And after that, the screening process by the regulatory bodies (the Trade Practices Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Authority) will take 75 days.

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