The company has committed to 100% digital subscription TV by 2007 (now?).
However, as a friend of mine was shocked to discover on the weekend "Digital TV" does not mean High Definition (HDTV) television. Foxtel doesn’t carry any HDTV content, nor can the existing "digital" set top boxes handle it anyway:
"and when MPEG 4 chips are incorporated in the next generation of Digital Set Top Units" – Foxtel Press Release
When wife and I lived in Canada we had a bunch of true HD channels to choose from – and the big NFL games of the week were all in HD as well. This was in 2004, three years ago.
Where is Australia?
We have free-to-air TV stations broadcasting in HD (another blog post there..), yet they just don’t carry enough of the wide and varied content we would like to expect. Live Super 14 rugby? Foxtel. Cartoon Network -> Foxtel, Big release movies? -> Foxtel. Yet foxtel "digital" doesn’t even support 5.1 surround sound.
Tell me what, pray tell, exactly is the point of a digital subscription service if you can’t get any of the benefits of digital transmission?
Sure, there are some things like being able to change camera views during *selected* sports matches, and some interaction with various competitions and so forth (example: we listened to the fan call during the Bledisloe cup on Saturday night), but why not deliver where it matters: 1080p picture (or even 720p) and 5.1 surround sound?
The ombudsman could do every consumer in Australia a favour and also insist on a standard of labelling plus a fully glossary of terms to be used consistently by retailers and wholesalers. People can be easily misled by "HD Compatible" etc. For more on that read this page here.
Yet, lets give credit to Foxtel/Optus for committing to a whole two HD channels.. by 2008. Start holding your breath…now.
Aren’t you tired of being the last first world country to get technology services? Aren’t you tired of paying the same price for advanced technology which is available overseas, yet getting delivered a substandard product?
C’mon Foxtel, get your act together.