Bad Blood: Foxtel clash with Music Labels

Music videos from some of the world’s biggest acts have been banned from appearing on any Foxtel-owned music channels for the past two weeks, due to an ongoing programming dispute between Foxtel and the world’s leading record label, Universal Music.

Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and 5 Seconds of Summer are among dozens of chart toppers whose music is nowhere to be seen on Foxtel, throwing its chart programs into disarray.

TMN believes this is the first time an Australian media company has been unable to program music from a major label.  Universal and EMI Music artists account for over 50% of this week’s TMN Top 40 airplay chart, taking the #1, #3, #4 and #5 spots respectively.

Foxtel owns and operates five music channels: Channel [V], [V] Hits, CMC, Max and Smooth, while its Foxtel Tunes channel is a 50/50 joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment Australia and Universal Music Australia.

In a statement emailed to TMN, Foxtel has confirmed its dispute with Universal Music Australia. According to Foxtel’s statement it is now clear that the decision not to play music videos by Universal Music artists was made by Foxtel during its negotiations with the major label.

“Foxtel has been in negotiations with Universal Music for some weeks to resolve a commercially viable agreement to continue to showcase Universal Music artists and music on our five music channels. Regrettably we have not resolved our commercial issues, which has forced us to pull all Universal acts from our contemporary music channels,” Foxtel stated. “[…] The Foxtel music channels can continue without Universal artists however, it is not our desired outcome.” 

So far there has been no comment from Universal Music Australia.

Foxtel’s flagship Channel [V] is under increasing pressure with total audience figures down 28% in the past six months, compared to the same period last year (Source: OzTAM).  The growth in online video, along with Vevo and YouTube channels continues to put the spotlight on the traditional music television model.

Meanwhile, MTV Australia appears to be unaffected and is running its chart programs normally, with more than half of its Top 20 represented by Universal and EMI artists, but the real winner (however temporarily) seems to be Sony Music, whose artists account for 75% of the most played songs on Foxtel in the past two weeks.

Imagine if Radio had a ban in play from a label preventing us playing songs? Fun and games then.

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