The war of words between ASTRA and the Seven Network over sports and the anti-siphoning list continues.
Today the Seven Network was all puffed out of arguments, issuing a blunt, two-sentence response to the three page press release from ASTRA.
Seven simply said, quote, “ASTRA’s latest comments have bored us rigid. We’re so bored we can’t even raise the enthusiasm to reply.” Unquote.
You gotta love a bared-boned, dinky-di Australian reaction from the network, and one that is totally outside traditional corporate responses. TV Tonight wishes we had more tell-it-like-it-is responses from our networks! Maybe we should just ban everyone from Press Releases longer than two sentences.
For the record, Seven’s boredom is over ASTRA again claiming that too many sporting events are being delayed to viewers including AFL, NRL, Netball and Olympics.
Meanwhile FreeTV Australia, the body that represents the commercial networks, turned the argument back on the Pay TV industry, citing TEN’s acquisition of the New World International Netball series as proof that the anti-siphoning list works. It was much longer than two sentences.
Everybody play nice, now!
Update: And here is the way the same info was reported by News Limited. Nowhere near as much fun.
ASTRA Press Release:
ASTRA has cited the significantly delayed coverage of this weekend’s football finals and the recent delays in the broadcast of the Australia-New Zealand international netball match as a powerful reason why the Federal Government should adopt a new approach to restrictive sports rights regulation.
Fans of NRL defending premiers Melbourne Storm will have to wait four hours in Victoria to watch their team play Brisbane in the elimination semi-final this weekend, instead getting a movie called Take The Lead and drama series Fringe.
NRL fans will have to wait an hour in Sydney and Brisbane before the elimination semi-final goes to air on Friday between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors.
Saturday’s second elimination semi between Brisbane and reigning premiers Melbourne will be delayed in Melbourne until 11.30pm on Network Nine, four hours after the game actually starts.
ASTRA has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to reduce the length of the restrictive anti-siphoning list, which allows free-to-air networks (FTA) a monopoly first right to buy sports that are repeatedly not shown live and nationally.
The anti-siphoning list includes more than 4,700 sporting events in an Olympic year, and is leaving sports fans effectively waiting for delayed sport.
And despite having the rights to broadcast the AFL Preliminary Finals live, FTA networks will delay the broadcast by up to two hours.
Friday’s Preliminary final between defending premiers Geelong and the Western Bulldogs will be delayed by Network Seven by an hour across New South Wales, Queensland and Perth, with AFL fans again forced to watch programs like Better Homes and Gardens and Deal or No Deal instead.
On Saturday night Network Ten will show the movie Stuart Little instead of the second preliminary final between Hawthorn and St Kilda will be delayed by two hours in NSW and Queensland.
ASTRA CEO Debra Richards says AFL fans in NSW and Queensland in particular are being treated extremely poorly by the current legislation and conduct of FTA networks.
“The solution to providing more live sport on television and the choice of more live sport on subscription television is to remove events from the list that aren’t currently shown live and nationally, with all broadcasters to compete fairly for the rights to broadcast these events.”
“Despite having the ability to broadcast these matches live, the FTA networks continue the delaying tactics. It’s good enough for them to show the grand final live nationally, but not so for the matches that actually determine the two teams that make the grand final.”
Netball fans are also up in arms over yesterday’s match between Australia and arch rival New Zealand being delayed until after 11pm on Network Ten last night, with further delays in Adelaide and Perth. Fans won’t be any more pleased when they find the second test scheduled at 11pm across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales on Saturday night.
“The FTA networks are letting down sports fans with their delayed coverage. They are allowed to do this because they bought the rights to show these sports under the cover of the antisiphoning list which is in urgent need of reform,” Ms Richards said.
ASTRA’s proposal to reform the restrictive anti-siphoning list would benefit all Australian sports fans and lead to:
• More sport on television;
• Allow FTA networks to keep what is currently shown on FTA television;
• Allow all broadcasters to compete for events not currently shown;
• Encourage competition for sports rights and;
• Assist in digital television take-up
The recent Olympic Games demonstrated the need for urgent reform. Australian viewers missed out on seeing key events live, including gold medal winners Steve Hooker and Matthew Mitcham.
FreeTV Australia Press Release:
The pay TV lobby’s latest, predictable attack on the anti-siphoning list proves once again it will go to any lengths to force Australian viewers to pay for sport.
Peak industry body Free TV Australia said today that the anti-siphoning list, which is designed to ensure that all Australians are able to see major sporting events for free on television, continues to achieve the best outcome for Australians.
Free TV CEO, Julie Flynn, says that without the anti-siphoning list, Australians would be forced to pay to watch their teams take part in the NRL and AFL finals or to watch the Australian Diamonds in the New World International Netball series.
“The anti-siphoning list ensures that all Australians are able to enjoy these sports, and not just the 25% who choose to pay up to $131 per month for subscription television,” said Ms Flynn.
“This is an exciting time of year for sports fans, and the latest bleating from ASTRA underlines the ongoing importance of the anti-siphoning list.
“Time and time again ASTRA misrepresents the anti-siphoning scheme in an effort to force Australian families to pay to watch major sporting events and ASTRA has fought to prevent more free sport becoming available. Contrary to ASTRA’s claims, ACMA’s independent monitoring has confirmed there is absolutely no hoarding of sport on free-to-air television,” Ms Flynn said.
Ms Flynn adds “ASTRA’s recent attacks on free-to-air TV coverage of the Olympics and the football finals should leave Australian sports fans under no illusions as to what is at stake if ASTRA succeeds in its efforts to undermine the anti-siphoning list.”
Seven Press Release:
Statement from Seven in response to latest ASTRA statements on free-to-air television sports coverage.
ASTRA’s latest comments have bored us rigid.
We’re so bored we can’t even raise the enthusiasm to reply.