How much has pay TV operator Foxtel received in one-off government handouts over the past three years? $40 million? $50 million? Or is it closer to $67 million? No one quite knows.
What we do know, after an extensive freedom of information (FOI) request reported by the ABC on Friday, is that the struggling News Corp-controlled television company gets concierge treatment from the federal government on a scale unavailable to almost any other Australian media organisation.
The report reveals that Foxtel has been given "a blank sheet for choosing how to spend a $10 million federal government grant and does not need to submit anything about it until next year". The FOI documents "show the federal communications department gave Foxtel free rein to allocate millions of dollars of taxpayer money granted to broadcast under-represented sports”.