Foxtel funds go unexplained
The Federal Government has given Foxtel $30 million for more sports coverage, but has not explained how it was chosen or why.
Foxtel received the $30 million over four years handout in the May budget to “support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television, including women’s sports, niche sports, and sports with a high level of community involvement and participation”.
Questions have since been asked about how the subscription broadcaster will use the funds and why it was singled-out, but even after a freedom of information request by the ABC, no answers have been provided.
The Department of Communications and the Arts told the ABC that it had no documents associated with the grant to provide.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield says it is just one part of broader media reform.
“This was a decision of government, announced in the budget as part of the media reform package,” a spokeswoman told Guardian Australia.
“The department’s FOI process is independent of the minister.”
The May budget’s broadcasting and content reform package provided $36 million over four years from 2017-18, including the $30 million for Foxtel.
The ABC is reporting that the legal director for the department refused access to the requested documents under subsection 24A(1) of the FOI Act because the “documents falling within the scope of your request do not exist”.
There were no big handouts for the commercial free-to-air TV industry, but its licence fees were abolished in the May budget, which should save them $130 million.