Game of Cable: House Foxtel, Slayer of Pirate Bay and Protector of Copyright


Game of Cable: House Foxtel, Slayer of Pirate Bay and Protector of Copyright - 31st August 2017

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Illustration: John Shakespeare.

by Carolyn Cummins

Two chief executives enter, one chief executive leaves.

That will be the scenario at Australia's largest subscription television service Foxtel soon after news broke earlier this month it would merge with Fox Sports.

The merger will see Foxtel – owned 80/20 by Telstra and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp – and the entirely Murdoch-owned Fox Sports rolled into a new entity that will then be able to list on the stockmarket.

News Corp will in effect control the new company with 65 per cent of the equity and has the right to appoint senior executives.

Peter Tonagh, CEO of Foxtel, says he and Fox Sports' Patrick Delaney are not at all anxious. Photo: Louie Douvis

And with the two companies each having a CEO already, it looks as if we'll be heading for a bloody battle for supremacy, the likes of which Foxtel subscribers have grown accustomed to on its top-rating breasts-and-dragons epic Game of Thrones.

Charging into battle will be Peter Tonagh of the House Foxtel, Slayer of Pirate Bay and Protector of Copyright.

Riding out to meet him will be Patrick Delaney of the House Fox Sports, Guardian of Rugby League and The Badminton World Championships.

But on Wednesday Sir Tonagh dismissed suggestions there was tension or even competition between the two Lords of The Cable.

"The two current CEOs work side-by-side on everything and we'll continue to work side-by-side on everything until a decision is made by shareholders," Tonagh told CBD.

"Neither of the two CEOs are at all anxious about that." Because nothing screams nonchalance like discussing yourself in the third person.

He went on to insist the pair was so close that they were even impervious to News Corps' go-to managerial style: pitting mate against mate in a fight to the death.

"There's always a bit of – 'oh, lets actually create some tensions and some friction'," Tonagh said.

"[But] it's very hard to create tension and friction between Patrick and I."

In more GoT related news, Sir Tonagh said he was "devastated" by technical issues that had plagued the show's airing on the company's online streaming service Foxtel Now.

Available for a fraction of the cost of a full cable subscription, Foxtel Now was said to be a cheaper and legal alternative for fans of the much-pirated GoT.

But Foxtel's site crashed under the weight of "unprecedented demand" when it released the season's first episode last month, and thousands of customers were stuck with glitchy streams during the final episode on Monday. "The glitchy streams on Monday was outside of Foxtel's control," Tonagh said.

Jackpot

Well it seems corporate raider, activist investor and US President Donald Trump buddy, Carl Icahn has had better luck with the stalled Fontainebleau resort that our James Packer. According to overseas reports a partnership led by New York developer Steven Witkoff has bought the site for $US600 million, more than seven years after billionaire Icahn acquired the property out of bankruptcy.

It was 2009 when Packer jnr's $US250 million investment in the casino development company evaporated after three of its subsidiaries, including its Las Vegas arm, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Crown's investment in Fontainebleau Resorts was its largest single investment in the US, aside from the $US320 million ($394 million) it had agreed to pay for a stake in Cannery Resorts.

Witkoff said he has been exploring the purchase for four months. He is known for building high-end condos including 150 Charles St., a luxury building in the West Village known for celebrity residents such as Jon Bon Jovi and Ben Stiller.

Surf 'n' turf

Good times run in the mortgage broking sector with Andrew Thorburn's NAB-run FAST, holding its annual awards conference last weekend in sunny Far North Queensland. While FAST has over 1300 brokers, settling in excess of $21 billion of loans per annually, it was invitation only to the gala event at the Sheraton Mirage at Port Douglas.

CBDs spy, dressed as a palm tree, said the day and a half conference for the top cash writers across myriad lending groups, culminated in a dinner on a private beach with FAST's head, Brendan Wright, handing out the gongs. We are not sure the topics of mortgage stress or housing affordability came up sa they munched on a surf 'n' turf menu FNQ-style.

According to the FAST website, to get to the event on 2018, one must settle $40 million in total settlements; or complete 150 loan transactions; or settle $10 million in asset finance.

Hosing down

Were the energy bosses, known as the Electric Eight from the eight major energy companies, including AGLs Andrew Vessy, Origin's Frank Calabria and Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren, giving a signal ahead of their meeting with the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull and Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg at his Sydney CBD offices?

Smoke could be seen billowing from the five-metre vertical green wall at the Bligh Street building just before 10am on Wednesday, a Fire & Rescue spokeswoman told AAP.

Three fire crews spent 20 minutes bringing the blaze under control using foam to put it out, she said. Police closed Bligh Street as crews arrived.

Turnbull still met the electricity company bosses over energy prices at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices later in the morning. The fire was believed to be an electrical fault.

(The Sydney Morning Herald)