Call to close anti-siphoning’s “loophole”

ashSeven, Nine and TEN have called on the government to close a loophole that allows Pay TV channels to acquire sports events before free to air broadcasters.

The claim is submitted by Free TV Australia to the review of the anti-siphoning list. There were 322 submissions received, which are available for reading here.

In 2005 FOX Sports purchased rights to the Ashes series prior to any free to air broadcasters. Free TV says it is the channel providers who bid for sports rights, not the platform operators.

Amongst its other claims the commercial television lobby says the Pay TV sector’s claims that there are over 1300 events listed is misleading. It says 838 of those “events” comprise individual matches in the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Of those, half are not captured on video by the host broadcaster and therefore cannot be broadcast by anyone. NRL and AFL matches make up a further 381 “events” and V8 Supercar races a further 38, giving a total of 1257 of the 1334 “events”.

Following its Keep Sport Free campaign nearly 60,000 Australians supported its cause, signing an online petition, broken down as follows: New South Wales 16620, Victoria 16578, Queensland 14749, Western Australia 4910, South Australia 4435, ACT 1399, Tasmania 1270, Northern Territory 250 and State Unspecified 52.

Commercial networks, which want the ability to play sports on digital channels, also want the list to be renewed every 10 years.

But the submission from the Pay TV lobby, ASTRA, wants the list renewed every 5 years.

It commissioned a survey from Auspoll of 1500 Australians in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast that found while 57% of Australians indicated they were sports fans only 21% indicated that they were ‘keen’ sports fans. It cites the figures for Masterchef Australia as attracting 30% more viewers than the recent AFL Grand Final.

It also found 73% believe it is unfair that the ‘old television networks’ have control over broadcasting negotiations for listed sports.

While the Pay TV sector hasn’t asked for current sports to be dropped from its list it says the purpose of the anti-siphoning list should be to ensure that only events of national interest, such as the Melbourne Cup or the AFL or NRL Grand Final are broadcast on Free to Air.

It says those decisions should be based on whether networks have consistently shown the event live or within one hour of commencement, and nationally.

ASTRA is against events on the anti-siphoning list being shown on digital multichannels.



  1. Good idea. Keep more sport on FTA. Why? So we can have a repeat of Seven’s farcical coverage of “live” 2008 Olympics? So we can have 1 hour delays in Rugby League World Cup matches so that Nine can maximise revenue? So that Nine can cut to the news late on Day 5 of a cricket Test Match hanging in the balance? So that the ABC can go to the news with a Netball test precariously placed? Yep. We definitely need to keep more sports on FTA so that they can maximise revenue while cutting sports fans short. The closest thing to decent FTA sports coverage we have had all year has been Seven’s coverage of V8 Supercars, Nine’s live Friday Night rugby league and SBS’s outstanding (barring MacGill’s performance) Ashes coverage.

  2. There is no such thing as free to air. There are two companies who heavily advertise on tv and rip people off at the counter, fuel stations and who have bought out a lot of the pubs in australia. So we are all paying for our television. And i refuse to pay even more to “pay tv”.

  3. Not suprised the Foxtel bashers are still complaining about having to pay.

    If FTA is serious about closing any loopholes it should be the loophole that counts sports or news as Aussie content. The requirements for Aussie content should apply to all their channels and be counted only for drama, comedy, soap and lifestyle shows.

  4. @BM-Dog you’re kidding yourself if you think you can even go close to watching decent sport on fta today.
    @daque makes a fair point. Why cant I buy Fox Sports without shelling out $88. Govt concessions to pay should include a better delivery model.

    And surely the issue of fta multi channel is moot with switch over happenning in the next 5 years – get rid of this stupid restriction.

  5. Keep the list as it is, but let the free networks play the matches on their digital channels. Digital will be mandatory in 2013, why not get the ball rolling … sports on digital channels will only increase the uptake of digital TV …. ASTRA won’t like that though because then people will get more channels for free and make paying for television even more pointless.

    Why should we have to pay $88 a month just to watch sport? The only way I’d ever support giving pay-TV exclusive rights to major sporting events is it they made it mandatory that their sports channels could be purchased separately and not in an $88 package with all the other garbage we probably will never watch …

  6. While visiting New Zealand last year, there is some argument for Free to Air to broadcast some of the top sports. Sky TV broadcast all the rugby matches and only one Super 14 match was played on fta and on delay per week.

    The problem however is that FTA do not treat sports like they should. Say what you will about Pay TV, they have over 5 channels exclusively for sports and show them live and uninterrupted. FTA splits games between delayed, live and not at all. To simply give them free reign over the market is not in anyone interests but the networks themselves.

    The argument with the Ashes was hypocrisy at its worst. Foxtel I recall bought the rights because Nine or the other FTA channels didn’t want it. There was no interest. Then the series was expected to be a humdinger and the FTA channels cry to the government its unfair.

    The Olympics was another example of one channel not being able to fully cover an event of that magnitude and keep the majority happy. Time for FTA to compete with Pay TV if they want to buy sports rights.

  7. Ooh Me Plums!

    “It says those decisions should be based on whether networks have consistently shown the event live or within one hour of commencement, and nationally.”

    ^ This x1000. It’s complete crap that Seven delay Friday night football for hours in Melbourne, Adelaide and especially Perth for rubbish like Johanna Griggs doing things to roast chickens.

  8. John by the sea

    I don’t know why the government doesn’t keep their gigantic nose out of it.They have enough to stuff up without worrying about sport on TV.In the big scheme of things I could careless who pays the most and gets the rights.

  9. Good to see a few people seeing how ASTRA’s 1300 events line is abosultely stupid, they include a ton of matches in grand slam that can’t even be telecasted plus the fact they can’t show 2 matches at once because of the silly anti-siphoning list rule, ASTRA’s line is compltetly false.

    If they why the anti-siphoning laws to be scrapped then why in hell can’t the FTA broadcasters show it on their digital channels. Can’t we just stop this selfish bull**** and focus on getting the best coverage we can to all channels. That includes both Pay and FTA.

  10. The question is “can we trust the FTA networks with anything they do.
    Delayed RL in melbourne (after midnight) delayed AFK in Brisbane (after Midnight)
    Amount of sneaky ads/promos, is that 10 secs or 30 seconds an ad or just a clever little promo…
    Would be nice if we had governing body with some muscle

  11. Why is there even an anti-siphoning list? Why is the government involved in controlling private business?

    If Fox Sports can afford to outbid Nine for the NRL. let them.

    Of course ASTRA is fighting for sports on Pay TV to make money. But do you really think the FTA networks have Australians sporting interests at heart?

    Of course not! They to like ASTRA want the sports because they make them millions in revenue. They don’t care about sports fans. They car about profits.

    Get rid of the list and let the market sort it out. There is every chance most of the major sports would stay on FTA anyway as the V8, NRL, AFL etc get more money from the FTA networks as their sports are exposed to bigger auds.

  12. the fta never bid for the right’s for most things and than they whinge like did. the way the olympics was covered last year by 7 and the way the afl has been covered by 7. they should scrap- the list.

  13. The usual self-serving guff from ASTRA. Could they at least stop pretending that this is some sort of altruistic and public-spirited campaign? The anti-siphoning list protects me and every other sports fan from being forced to shell out 60 bucks a month or more to watch the cricket or the V8s or the NRL. The reason they are opposed to this system is more than obvious, and it insults our intelligence for them to pretend that they have any motive here other than increasing their profits on what is already a cosy, overpriced little monopoly.

  14. I certainly do hope that FTA get to play sports on their multi-channels. Pay TV don’t need any assistance whatsover. Their arguments are continually flawed and skewed. 1300 individual events are virtually impossible to show especially when some matches aren’t even filmed by the host boradcasters.

  15. IMO if FTA doesn’t show or have any intention of showing some events live then they should loose it, with each network now having a 2nd SD channel there is no excuse, if it is not allowed on the 2nd ch then air it on the main an show alt programing on the 2nd ch or share the rights with PayTV.

    Are they going to keep carrying the same line if 90% have pay or when analogue is switched off so everyone is on digital?

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