The 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.