Technology firsts: 2008-09

As a market challenger, subscription television had always led technology change.  This differentiated pay from free television, and provided subscribers with added value. 

In past years the industry had been first to digitize and first to offer mobile streaming.  In 2008-09 the industry delivered more firsts, with Foxtel launching a new customer-friendly recorder known as iQ and five high definition channels including BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Fox Sports and ESPN.  A year later a further 15 high definition sports and movies channels were added.

Sky News expanded its service with the introduction of APAC, launched by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.  Broadcasting continuous public affairs content including parliament from every Australian state and territory, the service made parliamentary debate more accessible than ever.

Foxtel commissioned the first series of Selling Houses Australia, a home renovation program that soon became the highest rating non-sports show on the platform.

Subscription television now reached 30% of Australian homes, but restrictions on its ability to broadcast sport made further growth difficult.

In 2008 former Victorian premier Steve Bracks replaced Nick Greiner as ASTRA chair, and a year later television veteran Petra Buchanan was appointed CEO to succeed Debra Richards.