Networks lock arms around anti-siphoning list

Free to air networks are against trimming sports events from the anti-siphoning list.


Free to air networks are not about to yield and sports events from the anti-siphoning list if they have their way, amid speculation Communications Minister Mitch Fifield may trim some events for the Pay TV sector.

Free TV Chairman Harold Mitchell said, “It’s a case of here we go again as pay TV attempts to force Australians to pay for sports they currently see for free.

“Millions of Australian sports fans are able to see a range of major sporting events because of the anti-siphoning rules. Any move to force them to pay to watch sports they currently see for free, risks a strong voter backlash.

“The anti-siphoning list consists of ten sports plus the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. It is misleading to talk about the list containing thirteen hundred events.

“Free TV broadcasters show everything we acquire and you only have to look at television over summer to see there is more sport live and free than ever before,” he said.

Free TV claims audiences for sport on Free TV in 2015 were up 11.7 percent in metro and 6.3 percent in regional areas, and cites research by Crosby|Textor that found 88% of respondents believed sporting events should be available to all Australians for free.

“It’s clear that the Australian public do not want to be forced to pay to watch their favourite sports on television,” Mitchell said.

A media report this week claimed the Department of Communications advised the Minister to make minor changes to the list by removing some “minor” events, such as the FA Cup final.

The 2015 FA Cup attracted 63,000 on SBS last June.

8 Responses

  1. FTA should get more with the times on viewer habits, Foxtel’s main paying audience is due to their sports coverage including horse racing, viewers do not mind paying for complete coverage of big events which is something FTR consistently fails to provide. There’s no real excuses for the select manner sports is broadcast on FTR and numerous examples of poor abridged coverage of obviously costly team sports television events gives all the kudos to Fox Sports who wins the viewer points hands down.

  2. I’d be much more inclined to support their campaign if they weren’t continually asking for and receiving exemptions that allow them to cherry-pick the good bits (e.g. sports finals, matches Australia is playing, etc.) while leaving the rest (heats/quarters/semis, matches between other countries, etc.) behind.

    For any given series on the list, it should be all (or as much as is reasonably feasible) or nothing.

    The Broadcasting Services Act does, however, need to be changed in some aspects e.g. the multi-channel restrictions on anti-siphon list content.

  3. “Here we go again”, indeed. The commercial networks don’t want to have to compete in an open market for sporting rights, but want to be given the use of RF spectrum for free, want the govt to legislate against Netflix et al., but stream their own content into other networks’ broadcast areas, bleat about all the Australian jobs they create, but pay lip service to local content rules by buying up cheap NZ shows. Did I miss anything?

    What other businesses have this amount of govt-legislated protection?

    And yeah, I guess motorsport – Formula One, V8 Supercars, WRC – doesn’t count?

  4. The anti-siphoning disadvantages a competitor, and reduces the price sports can get for games delivering higher profits to FTA’s shareholders and executives. The FTA networks are also demanding billions of dollars worth of spectrum free so they can serve the public by creating Lifestyle and advertorial channels.

    Foxsports wants the reverse.

    It’s all largely irrelevant because nobody has any idea yet what streaming is going to do to sporting rights.

  5. The siphoning list in my opinion is anti-competitive. How can you restrict a business like that. Sports would be missing out on increased incomes as there is only one game in town. Why don’t they split the rights out.and separate FTA and STV. No exclusivity.

    FTA wants the spectrum for free, they want sports ring fenced, they pass off NZ programming as Australian to meet quotas and they have the nerve to still cry poor.

    Time to open it right up and see who can do business and who can’t.

  6. The networks are happy to force people to pay for US drama content. Why not sport? Can’t have it both ways. The list needs to be drastically relaxed.

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