Tuesday, 19 June 2018 06:17

World Cup streaming woes termed a Turnbull own goal Featured

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The World Cup football streaming disaster could have been avoided had SBS been broadcasting the tournament in full as in the past, the Australian Labor Party claims, adding that the public broadcaster could not bid for full rights due to funding cuts by the Federal Government.

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.

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.

Local interest in the tournament rose sharply on Saturday night when Australia played France. On Thursday, a similar spike is expected when the Socceroos take on Denmark in a match that would decide Australia's further participation in the tournament.

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."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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