SBS points ABC to the rulebook

2014-11-19_0007ABC should remember the ABC Act and have regard for the activities of SBS, according to SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid.

The comments follow ABC successfully nabbing sports right for the Asian Cup, which saw its “friendly outing” last night.

Media reports put the price at some $1.4 – $1.5m but ABC Managing Director Mark Scott said this week it included money from Football Federation Australia.

At the Screen Forever Conference in Melbourne this week, Ebeid said: “We’ve been doing football for 34 years on SBS. We are known as the home of football and we have a reputation with the European Championship Cup, as well 8 years on the World Cup.

“I guess I would have liked for the ABC to take note of that. But they bid for it and I was flabbergasted.”

Asked about whether public broadcasters should ‘collude’ he said, “There is competition law which says you can’t collude. So Channel Seven wouldn’t ring Channel Nine and say ‘Hey do you want the Cricket?’

“But in the SBS Act and ABC Act it clearly says we take must regard of what the other is doing.

“It clearly says ABC must take regard of what the Special Broadcasting Service is doing.

“I’m not a lawyer but I take that to mean we are meant to make sure we are not duplicating services and wasting taxpayer money, but working together to make sure we get the best outcome for the viewers.”

[26] Corporation to have regard to services of the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation
In performing its functions, the Corporation must have regard to the services provided by the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation. -ABC Act 1983

But Football Federation Australia is understood to have approached ABC because SBS did not bid enough for the rights.

“It should be mentioned that this was not on the Anti-Siphoning List so there was no guarantee it would be seen on Free to Air Television at all,” ABC’s Mark Scott said this week.

“So we put in a bid. There was no bidding war, we put in one bid. As I understand it that wasn’t high enough to actually release the rights for Free to Air Television, so Football Federation Australia made a contribution to that as well.”

“There seems to be the suggestion though that Mike Ebeid and I should pick up the phone and have a conversation about who’s going to bid for what. But to draw a parallel if Tim Worner and David Gyngell picked up the phone and work out who’s going to bid what for the AFL they would go to jail.

“We’re not in a position to pick up the phone to SBS and work out who’s going to bid for what. There have been many occasions when the SBS has outbid the ABC for shows we would have been keen to show.”

“The only way you can get around that is if you merge organisations and no government has a plan to do that.”

11 games will air on ABC in primetime in January.


  1. There’s the problem for SBS, Socceroo matches let alone the Asian cup haven’t been on the anti-siphoning list for years. The FFA chose ABC not just because of more money but to broaden the audience by having football on more than one free-to-air channel. Sounds like sour grapes from SBS but they must understand there are football matches and tournaments that are out of their budget for winning rights to e.g. English Premier League and Fifa Club World Champs. They have rights to Euro Championships but only show very limited games due to being out bid to pay tv channels. For that matter its a good sign that bigger budget free to air networks buy tv rights to football to take on pay tv networks.

  2. If Ebeid is worried about pointless duplication wasting money, how does he explain SBS2 changing focus go after ABC2’s audience?

    SBS have stated the bid $750k, which was what they estimated it would generate in ad revenue for them. If the ABC hadn’t put up more money the FFA would have just paid more to ensure it was on FTA with SBS.

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