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Contract could expand Home Affairs pay TV coverage from vessels to cities

Public servants at the Home Affairs mega-department could get access to pay TV - including packages with sport and movies - in capital city offices under a new contract that would let the agency expand the service's coverage beyond remote outposts and vessels.

Subscription TV providers considering a bid to supply the newly-formed agency have heard it wants access to both basic deals and "platinum" packages including music, documentary and entertainment channels as well as pay-per-view for staff. 

Australian Border Force workers on vessels already have Foxtel, but Home Affairs is also looking for pay TV coverage for its land-based offices, including in cities, although it currently plans only to supply remote staff on Thursday Island with the service. 

"The department is also seeking Foxtel or equivalent and other TV subscription services for land-based locations in metropolitan (capital cities) and remote (e.g. Thursday Island) areas around Australia," it said.

"The department does not have any immediate requirements for land-based TV subscription services – these will be sought as and when required."

While Home Affairs has asked providers to connect its vessels to Foxtel, it is also seeking proposals for other "value-for-money" TV subscription services - a category that might include streaming service Netflix.

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"Any other subscription services may be subject to testing or verification and will be accepted at the department's discretion," it said.

Home Affairs said it provided a subscription TV service for staff in remote locations when they were off duty.

"Staff members routinely spend weeks at a time living in remote staff accommodation or on board vessels where no free television service is available," a spokeswoman said.

The value of the tender would depend on businesses' responses, and was commercial-in-confidence, she said.

Eleven Border Force vessels would have access to pay TV under the agreement.

Spending on pay TV access has recently come under the axe at the Foreign Affairs department, which cut a cable TV subsidy for its diplomats among other allowances in a bid to find savings and bring perks in line with public expectations.