Network stoush over Sports rights


Free to Air networks have hit back at claims by the Subscription TV lobby that they acquire sports they do not show.

Yesterday, ASTRA CEO Andrew Maiden said the STV industry supported a modest trimming of the anti-siphoning list, but not AFL and NRL events.

“We take a principled approach to reform of anti-siphoning, which accepts the political reality that iconic national sports with a wide following are not the kind of thing you can delist,” he said. “But you could consider de-listing events that are played overseas in unfriendly timezones. Events that don’t include Australia and don’t attract large audiences.”

But Free TV Chairman, Harold Mitchell, said, “The claim that commercial free-to-air broadcasters don’t show the listed sports that they acquire is not correct and continues the misleading claims made by ASTRA about the operations of the list.

“The anti-siphoning list was designed to ensure that all Australians are able to see major sporting events for free and is not based on whether or not they can afford to pay.”

In the calendar year 2015 commercial networks acquired 1,420 hours of ‘anti-siphoning’ sport programming rights covering AFL, NRL, rugby union, cricket, tennis, netball, golf and motor sports. 100% of the rights acquired were broadcast: 1,357 hours (95.6%) being broadcast live and 63 hours (4.4%) as delayed broadcast.

Andrew Maiden told the committee he believed rights holders should sell rights at the best price, including with splits between Free to Air and Pay TV.

“Senator our position is that the owners of these sporting codes should have the right to trade their asset as they see fit,” he said.


  1. What annoys me with the current deal on sports is things like the local F1 round a couple of weeks ago, now most of the year on Foxtel we get no ads for the whole race and during every session of QLF and practice but because TEN is in control we have to sit though all the ad breaks and the coverage on Foxtel is just not the same. Bathurst is the same deal later in the year. I know the upside is this weekend we get fantastic live coverage while TEN is stuck with highlights hours later, after the results are shown on the evening news.

    • The alternative is its removed from the anti-siphoning list and there’s a fair chance that there isn’t a FTA provider for it. Its handy for whatever % of the share that have Fox Sports but that’s it.

  2. The networks didn’t lobby for the anti-syphoning list for the sake of consumers. They are stripping the sports owners of rights to get content cheaper, keep it out of a competitors hands and make higher profits. Streaming allows the owners of the sports to sell direct to the public or through telecommunications companies and could make the whole issue moot anyway.

    There are things on the list that FTA does not acquire and go to Pay TV. While networks may show final rounds of golf or game of football tournaments they often don’t broadcast earlier rounds or games and drop coverage to fit in more ads. The NRL pushed for extra games on Nine in their deal, which ended up being traded back to Fox Sports. And SBS is trading soccer rights to Optus for streaming and Pay TV over IP in exchange for an EPL game each week.

    So claiming that its for consumers and that popular sports would…

  3. Aussiecam58

    Foxtel could not survive without live sport and that’s a fact. If they did not have sport they would be just another Stan or Netflix. Die hard sports fans will pay for live sport that interests them. FTA should show games live especially now they have multichannel platforms. It should come down to where the sports administers feel the best bang for their advertising buck can lead to. They may get good broadcast dollars on Foxtel but will the game grow if shown on it? If they accept less but its shown on FTA will they get more exposure? It will come down to commercial viability. Perhaps it’s time to let the market decide??

  4. The claims are definitely true. One need look no further than the NBL, an Australian domestic league sport. When Channel 10 had the exclusive rights to this, they used to show games 4 to 5 hours late, long after the result was already known, or not at all.

    Now foxtel have the rights and every game is shown live.

    FTA should be subjected to use-it-or-lose-it for sports on the anti-siphoning list, and further to that the games must be shown live (otherwise one may as well turn to piracy to watch)

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