Remote control: Concern over push to dictate what Aussies see on smart TVs

Proposed legislation triggers fierce debate over viewer freedom and choice.

Remote control: Concern over push to dictate what Aussies see on smart TVs
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The Australian Labor party is set to introduce legislation that could reshape how Australians access content on their smart TVs.

The proposed "prominence" laws, championed by Labor's Communication Minister Michelle Rowland, aim to regulate devices in living rooms, dictating the priority of content displayed upon switching on the TV.

Advocated by the FreeTV lobby group, in collaboration with ABC and SBS, the legislation demands manufacturers pre-install specific TV apps and prioritise their content in search results and recommendations.

This directive extends to voice-activated searches, ensuring local TV services take precedence.

While proponents argue it offers traditional broadcasters like ABC and SBS an advantage in the streaming age, critics, including Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany, condemn the move as a government intrusion into viewers' choices.

Delany expressed concerns over limiting viewers' options and forcing them to navigate through mandated apps.

The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) intensified the debate, warning Australians about potential restrictions on their TV choices through full-page ads.

ASTRA members, including Foxtel and Sky News Australia, voiced strong opposition to the proposed legislation, branding it a government takeover of viewers' remotes.

As the legislation moves through the legislative process, it remains a contentious issue, sparking discussions about viewer freedom, industry adaptation, and the evolving landscape of television consumption in Australia.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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