Digital TV Just Got Better –Anti Siphoning

  • Anti-siphoning laws amended
  • TV stations can put sporting events on digital channels
  • Some events taken off list

    • Anti-siphoning laws amended
    • TV stations can put sporting events on digital channels
    • Some events taken off list

    Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy today announced a series of reforms to the anti-siphoning scheme that he believes will enhance television coverage of key sporting events in Australia.

    The Government’s reforms are outlined in the position paper Sport on Television: Reform of the Anti-Siphoning Scheme and mark the culmination of an extensive process of engagement and consultation.

    The main changes to the scheme are:

    • The introduction of two tiers of events on the anti-siphoning list – Tiers A and B
    • Tier A will comprise nationally iconic events such as the Melbourne Cup, Bathurst 1000 and finals of major Australian tournaments like the NRL and AFL Premiership. Free-to-air broadcasters will be required to broadcast these events live and in-full, with limited exceptions.
    • Tier B will comprise events such as the regular games of the AFL and NRL premierships seasons, and non-finals games of the Australian Open tennis. Free-to-air broadcasters will have the flexibility to televise these events on digital multi-channels, which will increase their capacity to show more sport on free-to-air television.

    “Allowing broadcasters to use digital multi-channels will see a dramatic increase in the total coverage of sport and give flexibility for broadcasters to show more events live,” Conroy said. “Broadcasters will have the capacity to televise AFL games in Sydney or NRL games in Melbourne, live on a digital multi-channel, rather than providing it on long delay on their main channel. This will save many hours of sleep for avid fans who happen to live in the wrong city.”

    In addition, the reforms will introduce ‘must-offer’ obligations on the free-to-air broadcasters, requiring them to televise anti-siphoning listed events they acquire or offer those rights on to another broadcaster. This will prevent rights to important sporting events going unused.

    “No longer can a free-to-air broadcaster purchase an iconic national event, and then not show it at all. In these circumstances, they must now offer it on to another free-to-air broadcaster to show it,” Senator Conroy said.

    The anti-siphoning list has also been updated, with popular and emerging sports such as Twenty20 cricket matches involving Australia added to the list. Australian events that are no longer broadcast on free-to-air television – for examples NRL and AFL games only shown on pay television – and less popular overseas events – for example non-Australian group games of the Rugby Union World Cup – have been removed from the list.

    The Government is also today releasing the report of the statutory review of the anti‑siphoning scheme conducted in late 2009, Sport on television: a review of the anti‑siphoning scheme in the contemporary digital environment.

    The review process was central to the development of the reform and the views expressed by industry participants and members of the general public helped to shape the Government’s decision. Over 330 submissions were made to the review.

    The implementation of these reforms will require amendment to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Amending legislation will be drafted over the coming months and introduced into the Parliament as soon as possible.

    Changes to the anti-siphoning list will be implemented shortly, although changes to the listing of NRL and AFL games will only be made once a regulation is in place or an alternative mechanism to protect the quality of free to air games is agreed by stakeholders. The Government will also seek to finalise the rules around the listing of FIFA World Cup and Socceroos World Cup Qualifier games. The current list expires on December 31.