Consultation on the anti siphoning list kicks off

The Honourable Michelle Rowland has confirmed by media release that the Labor government will commence consultation on the anti siphoning list, which is due to expire in April 2023.

“Every Australian deserves the chance to enjoy live and free coverage of events of national significance, regardless of where they live or what they earn.

The televising of key sports competitions helps to create shared experiences, foster a collective Australian identity, and contributes to grassroots community-based sports participation.

Subscription-based services make a valuable contribution to Australia’s media market and consumer choice, but not everyone can afford to pay for sport.

This consultation is an opportunity for Australians, industry, sports clubs, and other interested groups to have their say about the future of sport on TV in Australia.”

– Minister for Communications, the Hon. Michelle Rowland MP:

Consultation on anti-siphoning scheme kicks off

The Albanese Government has commenced consultation on the anti-siphoning scheme and list to ensure that Australians continue to have the opportunity to enjoy free coverage of events of national significance.

The anti-siphoning scheme aims to give free-to-air broadcasters an initial opportunity to buy the television rights to major events included on the anti-siphoning list.

The scheme prevents subscription television broadcasters from acquiring the right to televise an event on the anti-siphoning list unless a free-to-air television broadcaster has a right.

The list includes key sporting events across the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, AFL, rugby league, rugby union, soccer, tennis, netball, motorsports, horse racing and cricket.

The review is part of the Albanese Government’s commitment to media reform. This consultation process will help to inform the development of a new list, with the current list due to expire in April 2023.

The review will also assess the operation of the scheme in the contemporary media environment. The consultation paper outlines a number of issues for consideration, including:

·       the objective of the scheme and the mechanism for achieving this objective;

·       the acquisition of media rights by streaming services and other online services;

·       the regulatory rule that sits at the heart of the scheme;

·       the use and disposal of the rights to televise events on the list;

·       information disclosure and gathering arrangements; and

·       the composition of the list.   

Since the scheme commenced in 1994, technology has evolved, the viewing habits of Australians have changed, and newer platforms, including streaming services, are not subject to the rules.

The review will examine these and other trends, and consider the case for amendments to ensure that the anti-siphoning scheme remains fit-for-purpose and continues to support coverage of iconic events available free to the general public. 

Consultation closes on Tuesday, 6 December 2022.

Tv Central was provided with a quote from Seven West Media Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer James Warbuton in response to the review:

“Seven welcomes the Government’s comprehensive review into the anti-siphoning scheme. Modernising the scheme is fundamental to ensuring that important Australian sport remains free and universally available to all Australians. To achieve this in a modern media environment, the scheme must be extended to subscription streaming providers.”

My view

The right for all Australian viewers to see iconic sporting events for free should be at the forefront of any amendments to legislation. At this point, sports that are on the anti siphoning list are not guaranteed to be shown on FTA – the decision really comes down to commercial viability of the broadcaster. Seven and Nine show NRL and AFL games on FTA, but only those that garner the highest ratings (such as Friday Night Footy). AFL fans in Melbourne and NRL fans in Sydney and Brisbane, already have to fork out money to see their favourite teams play each week, if they are not part of the arranged broadcast schedule on Seven and Nine. Legislation should be built on protecting the sports to air for free and not on ratings and revenue of the broadcasters.

– Aaron Ryan

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