The Federal Government is threatening to ban a major Australian communications company from using the Charter Communications network after a court found the telco had breached its contract.
The Federal Court found Charter violated its contracts with local media, including the ABC, the ABC Local Radio and the National Public Radio.
The ABC had been using the network for more than 20 years, and it was the largest media company in Australia.
The company has said it will appeal the decision.
Charter was contacted by the ABC after the decision was announced and said it was reviewing the matter.
It said the ABC and the ABC Radio National would continue to use the network.
The broadcaster’s CEO, Mark Evans, said the decision to ban the company from accessing the network was “absolutely ludicrous”.
“I would like to be clear that the ABC is not in breach of our terms of service, and our communications are completely compliant with those terms,” Mr Evans said.
“We will continue to communicate with the Australian Government and ensure the ABC remains compliant with our communications laws.”
Charter Communications, which is a telecommunications operator in New South Wales, is the world’s second-biggest communications company after Google.
Its contract with the ABC expires in 2018.
The federal government has been considering a bill that would ban telecommunications companies from using their networks to intercept communications of citizens, including journalists.
It has also proposed a range of other restrictions on the use of telecommunications networks, including requiring telcos to hand over customer information in cases of fraud.
The government’s proposed legislation is the latest attempt to tackle the scourge of “false-flag” attacks that are blamed on foreign governments and militant groups.
It is also aimed at deterring foreign interference in Australia’s elections.
However, the legislation is facing stiff opposition from industry groups.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, which represents telcos, has also raised concerns about the legislation, which would apply to all telcos and not just Charter.
The watchdog said it would be “unwise” to apply the same regulation to Charter, which has more than 700 million subscribers worldwide.
It also said the bill could be misused.
“It would be a very bad precedent to apply a ban on Charter and use that as a reason to ban other companies, which have already been very good at complying with the law,” TIO spokesman David Scott said.
Charter has been a big winner in the telecommunications industry.
It had a market value of $4.7 billion in the quarter ending March 31.
It made $2.3 billion from advertising, including a $1.3 million payment to Fox News in 2015.
The firm also made $766 million in operating profits in the same quarter.
Charter is a member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates the industry.
In a statement, the company said it had been operating in Australia “without a single issue” since its acquisition in 2008.
The Australian Communications Commission (ACC), which sets industry standards, said it could not comment on a pending litigation.
But the ABC said it “regrets” the government’s decision to block the network, and said its Australian news operations and digital content were “free of the interference of foreign powers”.
“We are not in any way aware of any wrongdoing by Charter in relation to any particular matter,” the ABC wrote in a statement.
The Department of Communications and Information Technology (DCIT) also said it did not comment.
However it did say it would continue working with Charter to help ensure its operations were free of interference.
“DCIT has taken action to ensure the Charter network operates as intended and as safely as possible and is fully compliant with all relevant communications laws,” the department said.