Abolish anti-siphoning list says advisor

mcupThe anti-siphoning list is under fire once more.

In a draft report out today, the Productivity Commission has slammed the list of sports offered first to free-to-air networks as “inherently anti-competitive”.

A key economic adviser to government has recommended a rethink of the longstanding “anti-siphoning” rules aimed at maximising free TV coverage of major sports, ahead of Canberra’s review of the scheme. The list includes the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Melbourne Cup as well as cricket, tennis, basketball, soccer, golf, motorsport, AFL, rugby union and rugby league fixtures.

“The anti-siphoning list appears to be unnecessary to meet the objectives of wide consumer access to sports broadcasts (it may actually reduce consumer access to sports broadcasts),” its latest annual review of regulatory burdens on business concludes.

“Further, it imposes substantial regulatory burdens and competitive disadvantages on subscription television networks. The option to abolish the anti-siphoning regime should be explored.”

Recently, Foxtel’s CEO Kim Williams said that: “‘Use it or Lose it’ means that all the sports currently shown on terrestrial, or free to air television, should continue there for the next review.

“But the hundreds of sports events not broadcast by the terrestrial networks should come off the list – both FTA and subscription TV can then compete openly to acquire that sport for multi-channels equally. No preferment just a fair contest.”

But the major  networks defend the system as a way of protecting people’s rights to watch their favourite sports events for free. Free TV Australia, representing the Seven, Nine, Ten, argued the anti-siphoning content rules for pay-TV should include Internet Protocol TV (IPTV).

The federal government has promised to review the rules this year.


Source: The Australian, Mumbrella


  1. “I am especially annoyed at ch 10, they have a dedicated bloody sports channel and they still fill up the main channel with sport drivel.”

    This is because not everyone in Australia gets ONE

    Eg: I live in Griffith..
    1) Not everyone gets Channel Ten, so we have to put up with sporting broadcasts being simulcast onto Prime or WIN (Seven and Nine)
    2) Those who do get Ten, like myself, need a massive aerial to get it. Not all of these aerials work regarding the Digital networks such as ONE, and GO! Therefore, its for people like us that Ten keeps their sport on Ten to the bare minimum.

  2. I honestly think that the list is outdated David.

    What anti-siphoning list still has a event that pulled out of Australia last year:
    “Champ Car World Series (IndyCar) held in Australia”

    The upcoming A1 “Nitro Super GP” (which replaced the Gold Coast Indy) has a V8 championship round, but I would think that Seven is going into a fight with the A1 Australian rights holder, whoever that may be.

  3. Firstly – there needs to be some sort of regulation as we have a pay TV monopoly, but the current rules are way over the top. I like a quota system with use it or lose it and the ability to use all available channels

    Secondly this isnt just about the Pay TV issue. It about the behaviour and shoddy treatment of sports fans by the commercial channels. Its like always knowing the winner of a reality series before its screened (oh right..that never happens).

    And to Ch9 (I mean cpandilo) when you say ‘so that Australians can be guaranteed to enjoy the best in sports coverage from Australia and overseas’ I assume Wimbledon isnt of sufficient quality given that the first 2 sets of the Hewitt match were completely missed by 9 while Fox were forced to show a womens 2nd round match.

    Whilst I dispasionately believe in a form of regulation if I was the Minister the arrogance of Ch9 would be enough for me to scrap the whole concept and let them die slowly.

  4. [“Let’s talk TV genres: drama doesn’t have an anti-siphoning list, neither does comedy, nor reality, or game shows, or children’s shows, or lifestyle shows, or news, or documentaries… so why is sport so precious? Scrap anti-siphoning now.”]

    But there are regulations. There are quotas on kids programming, Australian drama and other standards.

    It is not like TV can be whatever the free market decides. You can impose a vision of what it should be like.

    Maybe the Government don’t like the idea of Pay TV having all the best sport. And only 40% of the population being able to watch it unless they pay $55 a month.

    The strategy is to take something that is popular on FTA and restrict access to it. I don’t think it will be healthy for Foxtel to become too dominant.

  5. I don’t want it to be like in UK where most of the best sport is on pay tv.

    If Foxtel/Austar got exclusive rights to all the quality sport. They could charge whatever they wanted.

    Pay tv has certain financial advantages over FTA once they reach a high subscriber base.

  6. Let’s talk TV genres: drama doesn’t have an anti-siphoning list, neither does comedy, nor reality, or game shows, or children’s shows, or lifestyle shows, or news, or documentaries… so why is sport so precious? Scrap anti-siphoning now.

    Oh – does it come down to ratings??? That would mean sports rights are worth more. So the FTA channels should put up or shut up.

  7. No way should we dump anti-siphoning. It would be a sad, disgraceful day for Australian tradition to see people having to pay to see the Grand Final on pay TV. Good for pubs and Foxtel of course – they’d be laughing all the way to the bank.

    Why should those of us already suffering financial disadvantage be further excluded? I loathe this privatised, user-pays, sell-it-off-to-the-highest-bidder mentality.

    However I totally agree that it needs to be updated to account for FTA digital, and that footy should not be on delay – ridiculous. If the broadcasters were genuine in their reasoning that it’s just to make people go to the game, they wouldn’t “broadcast” half-time i.e. take the same length of break. We really, really don’t need to hear half an hour of commentary repeating exactly what they’ve been saying during play anyway.

  8. So people should be able to see sports for free. I’ll try that line this weekend when I try to watch an AFL game at Subiaco Oval. Or maybe I will try and get a refund on my St Kilda club membership.
    After all why should I have to pay to see games of AFL when everyone can see it free.
    Or for that matter why should anyone going to the grounds have to pay to see NRL, A-League, Super 14. Or for that matter joining clubs.
    Oh wait there that goes to help pay the players, officals etc so that the free loaders can watch the sports for free.

  9. Crikeys!
    Just imagine, Foxtel would be wanting us to pay an extra $29.95 or something to see the half time entertainment at the footy grand finals and the like.

  10. Elphinkiller

    What should happen is that the sports on the list are given priority to FTA (if they choose to play it on a digital channel then that is up to them) but they must show it live but not against the gate. If they don’t show it live it then goes to pay. It is an absolute joke that in this day and age I can have pay, a high def tuner and the internet is the only place I can watch some sport because of these out of date laws. Fix it.

  11. it wont matter with the list after next year. when everyone will have digital. but i think most sporting codes want the fta networks to have their own bidding war and alow the pay network to just buy the games they want. like the nrl have now. with the cricket, french open and other sporting events. the fta networks dont bother with. pay tv have to wait and wait for them to make a decision and by the time they get it. they dont pay market value

  12. @Goonies:

    The reason TEN still have a lot of sport content on their main channel (mostly AFL) is because of the stupid anti-siphoning list which prohibits them from putting all their sporting programming on ONE as it is not on the list of channels approved to get content first.

    If the list isn’t scrapped, at least update it to include all current and future digital FTA multichannels, so that when we get new channels there won’t be a lot of red tape to go through.

    I’m not much of a sport person, but it’s fairly annoying that a lot of events can’t be moved onto secondary channels. The only show I watch on Saturdays is Iron Chef simply because there’s crap on most other channels, and TEN can’t put the AFL exclusively on ONE.

  13. I don’t see why sports fans get all their sport free to air anyway – if you want to spend half your life watching sport you should pay for it.

    I am especially annoyed at ch 10, they have a dedicated bloody sports channel and they still fill up the main channel with sport drivel.

  14. The Anti-Siphoning List must stay in at least some way so that Australians can be guaranteed to enjoy the best in sports coverage from Australia and overseas which Australians should be able to watch free of charge. But there must be an update for the digital multi-channels because the List is outdated when it comes to digital multi-channels.
    Also, I agree with George in that if the Government is serious about digital switchover it must ban the sale of televisions without digital tuners built-in.

    What are these sports that Foxtel keeps banging on about that the networks own the rights to but don’t show? Is there a list of these anywhere?

  15. Last night in Queensland and NSW, Nine Network viewers had to sit through over thirty minutes of NRL Footy Show overrun. While we were waiting, Lleyton Hewitt won the first two sets of what would become the biggest upset of Wimbledon so far this year. I have Foxtel and Fox Sports does a wonderful job of covering tennis and yet because of a panel on dimwits and clueless managers decided they would go way overtime, Queensland and NSW viewers only saw the last set of the match. At least they played it live.

    Useit orlose it!

  16. The list should definitely stay. I can’t see any political party scraping it. If you take NZ as an example, nearly all major sporting events are exclusively live on pay tv. However, the rules should be changed so that these events can be seen first on the FTA second channel. After all within four years everyone will have digital tv.

  17. With all the new digital channels coming up, I think abolishing the anti-siphoning laws will be fantastic. TEN could save so much airspace on their main channel by moving AFL over to ONE. And this will really push people to get a digital TV or set top box.

    Maybe if a date is set for early next year for a mini “switchover” of sorts where a lot of TEN’s sport will be moved over to ONE, some entertainment shows moved over to Nine’s new channel, etc. This will really push Digital FTA TV as being a must-have service, and if something like this is implimented with say a converter box coupon program like in the US uptake of digital will be much higher this time next year.

    Ad campaigns aren’t enough! We need the digital FTA platform really pushed to everyone. Get your act together! The government, Freeview and all the networks really need to start taking action! Having a 49% uptake in DTV (which has been available for what, 8 years now?) is pretty p**s poor, and having stores which still sell analogue TVs is also pretty crap as well.

  18. they should get rid of the list, with multichanneling people can still access the sports for free but because of this list the sports have to air on the main channel first, often preventing live coverage. it doesn’t help sports fans it only hurts them. the list needs a serious re-think.

  19. Free TV Australia only represents the commercial channels, not ABC or SBS.

    And I couldn’t care less if anti-siphoning was dumped. But then I’m not a sports person.

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