Andrew Demetriou, the chief executive of the Australian Football League, the country’s top Australian rules league, urged fans to stop using the Optus telecommunications service.
The Australian Federal court ruled earlier this month that Optus did not breach copyright laws by allowing subscribers to its TV Now service to watch sports matches broadcast on free-to-air television channels on their mobile phones with a short time delay.
The AFL said it would appeal the ruling as Optus does not have rights for the league. In May 2011, rival telco Telstra acquired rights for live mobile coverage of the AFL in a five-year deal, from 2012 to 2016.
“The Optus situation has serious implications for sport, not just the AFL,” Demetriou told the Sunday Herald Sun.
“Optus should take a good look at themselves. If you are an Optus subscriber, switch to Telstra. Do everyone a favour (and) get out of that company. Stop subscribing to them. We are not the only sport saying that at the moment.
“The thought of Optus deciding to lift our content and not pay for it, and pretend and purport to be doing it for the consumer, is a complete disgrace. They should be ashamed of themselves because what they are really doing is charging for a start, so that they can benefit their shareholders, not the consumers.
“They are not paying for it; they are lifting it. It is akin to stealing and all it will do is that if sports can’t rely on that revenue, they will slug the consumers.”
Clare Gill, Optus’s general manager of government and corporate affairs, said: “The AFL chief executive is incorrect in his assertion that Optus is lifting content. To suggest otherwise is misleading.”