Report: ABC seeking Mardi Gras broadcast rights

Original TV broadcaster is hoping to return to pride celebrations in 2022.

ABC is preparing to bid on TV rights to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, according to media reports.

The Australian reports ABC is aiming to win Mardi Gras until at least 2024 in an initial three-year pitch.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Ltd, is also offering the successful bidder the rights to screen festival events from WorldPride 2023, the international festival to which Sydney won the rights over Montreal and Houston two years ago.

SBS drew a 13.5% network share on Saturday night with its marathon coverage of the 2021 event, up slightly on 2020’s 13.2%.

ABC famously broadcast Mardi Gras for the first time back in 1994, when ninety MPs signed a letter requesting ABC Managing Director David Hill replace it with something else.

Two decades later, Hill said in an interview, “We expected a backlash because we got a backlash any time we did something cutting edge, but we didn’t expect it to take on the momentum and the size that it did. I said at the time that we weren’t surprised, but we were surprised. I didn’t want to talk up the level of opposition to it. To be honest, looking back now if you look at the movement in public opinion, that was huge. It was bigger than at the time I appreciated it. We did it because it was the right thing to do. Not because we saw it as a critical part of social progress, we did it because it was the right thing to do it turned out to be of enormous significance. I was very popular for a while, I couldn’t go into a restaurant in Sydney and be charged for a glass of wine because all the gay waiters were saying, “good on you!” I underestimated how profound the decision was, and what long term lasting benefit it had for social progress and acceptability of gays and so on, and I’m very proud of that now.”

It has since screened on 10, Foxtel and SBS.

ABC entered a float in 2020, funded through donations.

8 Responses

  1. … the first time the Mardi Gras was broadcast (not live) was on community television in Sydney … Prime Television provided the facilities to an outfit called Queer TV …

    1. With respect you need to be better informed. ABC has an entire Religion and Ethics portal, Compass has aired almost every week since 1988 covering many religions, and Mardi Gras includes gay religious groups & supporters. ABC also hasn’t been known as Channel 2 for a few decades.

  2. This is an interesting proposal. I suppose ABC already does the Rage Mardi Gras special every year on Rage and it could coincide with that. The biggest complaints that occur for the Rage special is that it’s a similar playlist every year, but even though there are only so many LGBTQ+ themed music videos, there are still enough that I know of to not have the same repetitive playlist every year. Some of their earlier Mardi Gras specials were more diverse in playlists.

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