Reading your recent exposé on the newspaper fudging of the figures, I
thought I’d relate a few tales from the steam room at Foxtel:

  • We regularly delay sending out a tech to pick up sub boxes
    when they cancel. The usual wait is one month, but it can be three to four depending
    on how long they have subscribed for.
  • All staff are counted whether or not they have a box.
  • Multiple units in a single residence are counted as two households in most cases.
  • Bosses ‘gift’ subs out to mates come audit time, and then ‘cancel’ them saying it was a ‘trial run’.

This all sounded a little far-fetched so we put it to Foxtel spinner Mark Furness who replied as follows:

“Foxmole” should more accurately have signed off as “bozo”. If bozo is
asleep at our wheel it’s a real worry, but their knowledge and appetite
for muck suggests they’re working elsewhere.

a bit of logic for a start: Foxtel pays large sums of money in licence
fees to suppliers of our more than 100 channels, based on our reported
subscriber numbers – the idea that we would inflate our numbers so that
we can pay our raft of suppliers for more subscribers than we actually
have is truly clever. Now why didn’t we think of that?

properly reports only paying subscribers – so this excludes staff who
receive FOXTEL as an employment benefit, and a few not-for-profit
courtesy accounts.

We don’t count homes with more than one set-top unit as two subscribers – they’re counted as one subscriber.

many businesses, including Crikey I imagine, we do exercise a bit of
goodwill with our customers. So we give subscribers who may have
forgotten to pay their bills a reminder to pay before we cut them off.
In any event, when we turn the service off, they cease to be counted as
a subscriber, even if we are yet to collect our set-top unit.

Foxmole should see their doctor immediately.

The subscriber-based licence fees is the killer argument – Foxtel would
want to keep this down. Besides, advertising revenue is so small that
the gain from rorting the numbers would be limited. Oh well, the punch
and counter-punch does provide some food for thought – even if Foxmole
does sound wide of the mark.