ASTRA criticises Seven fee for Commonwealth Games app

Seven will charge viewers to view a ‘premium’ app of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, at $19.99 for 11 days of action, raising questions about the relevance of the anti-siphoning list.

The anti-siphoning list includes key sporting events that should be available free to the general public. The Commonwealth Games is on the list, a Tier B event that can be shown on multichannels.

While Seven will offer a free app with Live feeds of Seven, 7TWO and 7mate channels in SD, it will charge $19.99 for the “Access All Areas” HD version with up to 20 live event channels and less commercial content.

Seven has previously charged for premium apps for the Australian Open and Winter Olympics.

Bruce Meagher from Subscription TV lobby group ASTRA, says Free to Air broadcasters can’t have it both ways in regards the anti-siphoning rules.

“You can’t on one hand insist that the anti-siphoning rules must remain in place to ensure that Sport is available free, and then use the rules to obtain a privileged bargaining position to acquire rights and put them behind a paywall. That is simply unsustainable and shouldn’t be permitted,” he told TV Tonight.

“It shows the absurdity of the whole regime. In this day and age where the whole idea that Free to Air broadcasting should have that privilege is ridiculous. You would be better off scrapping the anti-siphoning list altogether, or restricting it to those events that are truly iconic.

“You would be hard-pressed to say that the bulk of the Commonwealth Games are regarded by Australians as matters of iconic national significance.”

Foxtel was also denied a seat at the negotiating table in the first round of Cricket broadcasting rights. Meagher notes the rules do not apply to other platforms.

“The rules only catch Foxtel, effectively, because they only apply to Subscription Television. They don’t apply to telcos, Google, Facebook, Amazon or any of them.”

Updated: Seven said in a statement, “The Anti-Siphoning rules are acting exactly as intended, ensuring significant events are available to all Australians live and free on broadcast television. 

“Seven will be streaming over 320 hours of the Commonwealth Games on its broadcast channels, including every minute of the key events, live and free, with many more hours being streamed for free through 7plus.”

12 Comments:

  1. They were not complaint Ng when the FTA channels were partnering with Foxtel to provide extra streams. Think Foxtel charged subscribers extra too.

  2. This is stupid, because they had the winter olympics on the app and then when the winter paralympics were on, absolutely nothing! You cant have it both ways…

  3. A bit rich coming from ASTRA, especially when their pay-tv channels are loaded up with wall to wall ads. I can flick through 10 channels and they have ads on every single one. Maybe check your own house before flinging at FTA guys.

  4. Pretty sure that anti-siphoning simply stipulates that the events listed have to air on free to air TV – it does not even cover HD or not, let alone what they chose to do on any other platform. Do we all remember it was just a few years ago we did not have main channels in HD other than SBS and had to put up if SD for most major sporting events including footy Grand Finals and State of Origin?

    They have fulfilled their obligations with airing the event on FTA and if they can monetize more through the app, why wouldn’t they?!

  5. Seems like such a competitive advantage. Though realistically, the lack of pre-packaged content probably rules out a desire for most telcos / Google / Etc to enter the fray. (Hence why Optus went with EPL and World Cup, rather than A-league).
    David – I think the idea that some events would be ‘Tier A’ and ‘Tier B’ was part of amendments that never passed. Could be wrong though.

  6. I think it is about time the anti-siphoning regime was tested through either the ACCC or the High Court. It really is anti-competitive in the way that it is set up.

    • It sorta has been. The ACCC (well, the TPC) was instrumental in drafting the original “FTA first refusal” changes to the Broadcasting Act, in 2003 the ACCC supported the ‘anti-siphoning list’ approach (along with a proposed ‘dual rights’ / ‘A & B events’ option that failed) that lead to the list being established in 2006, and they strongly supported the current “use it or lose it” approach that was adopted in 2009.

      In 2015 they said “If the trend of streaming live sport is replicated in Australia, particularly via paid subscription models, the anti-siphoning regime may need revisiting, but we are not there yet”. Maybe we are there now…

    • And the Australian Open, where they provided a free crippleware app and charged for the premium app to get all the content & HD. As long as Seven broadcast on FTA, they can do what they want online. Foxtel is just complaining now because the Commonwealth Games lend themselves to a Nationalistic, emotive attack on the anti-syphoning rules, which they hate.

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