Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Deputy Opposition Senate leader Don Farrell said in a joint statement that SBS chief Michael Ebeid had blamed budget cuts for having to undertake a joint licensing deal with Optus.
Optus' coverage has been less than optimal over the first few nights and the telco has been finally forced to ask SBS to take over for a few nights to ensure that fans can feed their hunger for football.
I have spoken with the Optus CEO, Allen Lew. He assures me he is giving the World Cup streaming problems his personal attention and he believes it will be fixed this evening.— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) June 18, 2018
The company has apologised for the problems with the coverage which are said to have been caused due to its inability to anticipate the degree of demand. Smartphone and tablet users have been the worst affected.
Rowland and Farrell quoted Ebeid as telling the SEN radio network on Monday: "“At the end of the day, it does come down to finances. Our revenues have been going down. We’ve had about $40 million in reductions in our government funding.”
They said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's criticism of Optus would be "laughable" were it not for the fact that millions of Australian football fans had been "left crying over a mess that he has created".
"Instead of listening and ensuring Australians could watch the 2018 World Cup on SBS, Malcolm Turnbull cut millions of dollars of funding from SBS in 2014 and again in 2015," the Labor pair said.
"As communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull ignored warnings that funding cuts would threaten the ability of SBS to fully cover future World Cups.
"This is the government’s fault and the blame lies squarely at the feet of Malcolm Turnbull."