High-profile Australian media companies, including the country's largest pay-TV network, Foxtel, have been advertising on Web sites known to facilitate the piracy of films, programs and music, it was

SYDNEY (The Hollywood Reporter) -- High-profile Australian media companies, including the country's largest pay-TV network, Foxtel, have been advertising on Web sites known to facilitate the piracy of films, programs and music, it was revealed April 6 in the local press.

The deals were made as group media buys on such known piracy sites as Pirate Bay and TorrentReactor.

Foxtel, which is owned by Telstra, News Corp. and Kerry Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd., is host to U.S. studio-owned movie channels, including Showtime Australia and the Movie Network.

Foxtel head of corporate affairs Mark Furness said in an interview that the company did not authorize its advertising to be placed on the Web sites and had taken action to have it removed.

"The advertisements were placed by a media agency as part of a 'deal group' arrangement," said Furness. "Foxtel is no longer advertising on inappropriate 'blind' sites."

Telstra's directory service Sensis, which also had ads running on the sites, uses advertising agency Optimedia to book its ads, which in turn used online agency Max Interactive to book a Yellow Pages Online campaign.

Managing director of Max Interactive, Dominic Elfer, said that neither Sensis nor its advertising agency specified P2P sites in their booking with the company.

"While it was the fault of our affiliate partner, who made the error, the booking was with Max Interactive and we regret that this has taken place," Elfer said. "We have implemented a system of checks and balances that will stop such adserving errors occurring in the future"

Adrianne Pecotic, executive director of the Motion Picture Assn.-affiliated Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, said: "AFACT regrets that peer-to-peer Web sites that facilitate piracy are able to attract advertising from respected companies at all, and we are concerned that collecting ad revenue is one way that peer-to-peer Web sites profit from the sharing of illegal content.

"AFACT is confident, however, that most respected companies, once made aware that their advertising fees are supporting illegal activity, will move to immediately remove the advertising. In many cases, the ads are placed not by the company but by an agency, and the mistake is quickly and easily remedied."