Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has admitted that Labor contributed to the lack of competition in the Australian telecommunications market by allowing Telstra to get into subscription television.
The admission comes after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week unveiled a plan to separate Telstra’s retail and wholesale arms, and to deny it access to extra spectrum for wireless broadband unless it sells its 50 percent stake in Foxtel and its cable network.
Tanner told ABC TV that Telstra’s stake in Foxtel had been “dreadful” for competition.
”We did make one significant mistake, and that was to allow Telstra into Foxtel because in other countries, virtually every other developed country, the main competitor to the traditional phone network is the cable TV network. Here, the same company owns both,” he said.
Telstra has agreed to work with the Government on the proposed split. Telstra chief executive officer David Thodey last week said that while they were disappointed the Government felt it necessary to introduct the legislation, Telstra was “committed to working with the Government to find a solution that is in the best interests of the industry, the nation, Telstra and our shareholders.”