Feevee go down to the wire Down Under

In another frenzied feevee week, both Kerry Packer-backed Optus Vision (OV) and Rupert Murdoch-backed Foxtel scrambled to get in the last snipe before their impending launches.

In its latest programming acquisition, OV signed Australia’s first 24-hour home shopping service, the Value Channel, for cable retransmission in return for a $7.5 million 3.75% stake in the web and a revenue share.

Bowing in November, TVC was unveiled Aug. 28 by the original carrier, feevee satcaster Galaxy.

OV also unveiled Local Vision, a $6 million commitment to provide network capacity for nonprofit organizations to make their own programs for suburban “micro-stations” initially in western Sydney.

“We intend to provide management, equipment and training, but we basically want local residents to name their own channels and make programs that reflect the interests and concerns of local communities,” said Local Vision manager Steve Holland.

And more local communities will be passed sooner, after the Sept. 4 vow by OV that its estimated $3 billion cable rollout will pass 2.3 million homes by the end of next year (instead of the originally planned 1.1 million) by employing more contractors, having shareholders bring forward funding commitments to the tune of $530 million and going to the debt markets next year.

OV chief executive Geoffrey Cousins claimed the Eastern states speed-up would mean OV is likely to pass Foxtel, which has vowed to reach 2 million homes by Christmas.

“We feel it is extremely important to spread our service more widely in order to take advantage of our superior programming. It would be fair to say we have succeeded in developing and obtaining quality programming while our opposition has concentrated on its network build,” Cousins said.

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