Saturday, November 26, 2022

Australian Govt Consults on Broadcast Anti-Siphoning Scheme

The Australian Federal Government has commenced consultation on the broadcast rights “anti-siphoning scheme and list” which is designed to 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 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 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. The current list due to expire in April 2023.

According to the Minister for Communications, the Hon. Michelle Rowland MP, “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.”

Industry body Free TV Australia welcomed the commencement of the review of the anti-siphoning scheme with CEO Bridget Fair commenting, “Live and free sport on television is a fundamental part of the Australian way of life. It remains the great social connector of our times, allowing Australians from all walks of life equal access to the events that bring us together.

“This review is crucial as there is a real risk that unless our anti-siphoning framework is updated we could see iconic sports events being exclusively acquired by subscription streaming platforms. The current rules are over 30 years old and only cover free-to-air and pay TV.

“These are analogue rules in a digital world, and we look forward to working with the Government to renew the anti-siphoning list and expand it to cover all subscription platforms so that Australians can continue to enjoy live sport on their TVs, free and for everyone.”

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.

To make a submission visit https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/have-your-say/anti-siphoning-scheme-review

For more information on the anti-siphoning scheme visit https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/department/media/publications/anti-siphoning

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