Are Aussies treated like second-class digital citizens?

[box border=”full”]CHOICE calls on overseas content makers to end discrimination against Australians[/box]

A CHOICE investigation has found that Australian consumers get a raw deal when it comes to accessing our favourite television shows and is calling on consumers to bypass the virtual walls that restrict our market.

“How many more stories about Australians pirating Game of Thrones do we need to see before the industry gets with the program?” says Matt Levey, Director of Campaigns and Communications at CHOICE.

“Like consumers around the world, Australians are increasingly showing they want to access content at a reasonable price in a way that suits them. It’s called ‘the internet’”.

“Unfortunately, some fans turn to piracy to access content when they might have paid. Piracy undermines the industry and is ultimately bad for consumers, but to counter it the industry needs to meet needs of consumers and embrace advances in technology,” says Mr Levey.

CHOICE says that Australians are treated like second-class digital citizens, in stark contrast to the pricing and flexibility of content services in the United States.

“Netflix in the US costs only US$7.99 per month and features a hit-parade of shows including Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, House of Cards and Arrested Development. Back catalogues of most series are available for instantaneous viewing, along with other popular TV shows,” says Mr Levey.

“In Australia, Quickflix subscription costs range from AU$15 to AU$35 per month and you pay extra to watch some movies and TV shows. Also, it uses DVDs for new release movies, while Foxtel charges AU$72 per month.”

CHOICE says Australians who bypass the virtual walls which make content more expensive and harder to access are helping create pressure for change, but believes they should do so with their eyes wide open.

“It’s little wonder that Australian consumers are using free browser plugins such as Media Hint and Hola to access Netflix in the United States,” says Mr Levey.

“We encourage consumers to get around so-called ‘geo-blocks’ to pay for legitimate content, but you need to do your due diligence,” says Mr Levey.

“Depending on terms of service, risks could include having your account suspended or restricted access to content you have already paid for.”

CHOICE says Australians are able to circumvent restrictive geo-blocks using legal paid services such as and blockless-tv. These cost about $5 per month and effectively hide your computer’s country address when accessing overseas websites. A number of free browser plugins are also available.

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