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Optus fails to silence AFL boss

Joins long list of people who can’t get Demetriou to shut up

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After winning the first round of its TV Now court case, Optus has had a minor loss when it asked an Australian court to stop Australian Football League boss Andrew Demetriou.

The original loss, in which the Federal Court decided that TV Now is legal (a decision which is predictably subject to an appeal), didn’t deter Mr Demetriou from maintaining his public position that it’s not legal, and that Optus is “lifting” the AFL’s content. Mr Demetriou said as much to News Limted:

“They should be ashamed of themselves because what they are really doing is charging for a start, so they can benefit to 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. Optus should take a good look at themselves. If you are an Optus subscriber, switch to Telstra, do everyone a favour, get out of that company. Stop subscribing to them, it is a disgrace. I'm not the only sport saying that.”

Optus found this objectionable, and asked the Federal court to gag Mr Demetriou on the basis that the statements constituted misleading and deceptive conduct in the context of the Australian Competition and Consumer Act.

The court, however, disagreed. In a judgment handed down today, Justice Edmonds has found that the statements don’t contravene the relevant Act, and Optus’ action cannot succeed.

The statement, Justice Edmonds decided, “was clearly a statement of Mr Demetreiou’s opinion … honestly held. It was not and did not purport to be a statement of fact”, and “not misleading or deceptive”.

And, of course, Demetriou’s response was almost gleeful. Being the sort of person that couldn’t be told to “shut up” if the instruction came with a cubic meter of concrete, he pretty much immediately repeated his complaint.

“They are lifting this particular product without paying for the content”, he reportedly said. ®

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