For years ABC watchers have wondered how much Auntie makes from licensing its content to third parties – particularly Telstra BigPond. Now that deal has come undone we have a partial answer.

The average net profit from the ABC’s deal allowing Telstra to use its news on the Bigpond sites was about $250,000 per year for the last four years – not the “millions” suggested by The Australian yesterday.

Lots of questions arise from this, including whether such deals are worth the crumpet, given that the revenue is fairly low. Is that really all that the content is worth?

But those worried about the impact of third parties being licensed to use ABC content on independence and the image of the ABC might be mollified to know that it was the ABC that ditched the deal because of precisely such concerns.

Apparently Telstra wanted to brand the content “Bigpond News” or similar, and use that branding in cross-promotional opportunities. This was contrary to ABC guidelines, and so the deal was off. Which doesn’t mean the ABC won’t be after other deals with other partners.

According to The Oz, Australian News Channel, the mob behind SkyNews, have got the deal with Bigpond instead. I wonder if they got a better price?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey