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.