Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood has served up criticism on Optus' TV-recording app, TV Now, despite the fact that Optus sponsored the 2012 Australian Open.
Roger Federer at the Australian Open.
(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)
Wood told the Communications Alliance's Broadband and Beyond 2012 conference in Sydney today that the issue of whether Optus is allowed, through the TV Now app, to record live sporting broadcasts for viewing on mobile devices needs to be resolved through legislative changes.
"I think legislation needs to catch up with what's happening in convergence," he said.
Optus won the first round in the Federal Court over the right to use its TV Now product under time-delay provisions in the Copyright Act. The Australian Football League (AFL), the National Rugby League (NRL) and Telstra have appealed, and the hearing is scheduled for 14 and 15 March.
Wood said that the business model behind major professional sports is built on gaining revenue firstly from broadcast rights, then sponsors, then tickets and then merchandising, so it is important to protect those rights. But as a sponsor of the Australian Open this year, Wood said that Optus is willing to pay for the content for now.
"Optus have told me they would pay for content if they want to use it. So they're not against paying for content."
But the CEO said that the Optus TV Now case is not as much of a problem for Tennis Australia as it is for the NRL or the AFL.
"It's really not a big issue for us at the moment, because we're out of season and we're not in negotiations in Australia for broadcasting contracts. We're with channel Seven for the next three years, so somebody else is going to work out the answer to that."
Austin Bryan, Optus director of digital media, told the conference that the TV Now app was developed with the "busy Australian consumer" in mind, and that ultimately businesses and consumers will pay for content when content holders are willing to meet the convenience of the audience.
"Giving people access to content anywhere at any time will encourage them to pay for it," he said.
This was a sentiment echoed by ABC managing director Mark Scott, who noted that although ABC's broadcasts and iView are free for consumers, care of the taxpayer, the ABC has taken on criticism from Doctor Who fans, who want the shows aired sooner to avoid having to resort to copyright infringement.
"I've discovered that Doctor Who fans are quite passionate. They let us know that a six-month gap in the ABC showing the latest season of Doctor Who ... was laughable. Even when we closed that to six days ... they were still a touch contemptuous. When we showed the Doctor Who Christmas special on Boxing Day, which was only about 12 hours after it aired in the UK, that was a little more [acceptable]."