TV call to extend anti-siphoning protection to digital
free-to-air networks are urging the government to
extend its anti-siphoning protections to digital sports
rights, in a bid to prevent streaming services and
pay-TV providers from putting major events behind
Rupert Murdoch-owned Foxtel Group, which operates
the sports streaming service Kayo, says broadcast
rules are outdated, and relaxing regulation would
create more competition and innovation in sports broadcasting
and unlock extra funding for grassroots sport.
Free TV, the body which acts on behalf of Nine (owner
of this masthead), Seven and 10, argues the business
model of local TV centres around mass reach, driving
grassroots engagement in sport, ensuring the long-term
viability of the sporting codes themselves.
TV groups have made submissions to a government review
of the anti-siphoning list, part of the legislation
that determines which events and matches are freely
available to the public.
says existing rules are out of step with the way Australians
now view sport, defending its position by saying it
can broadcast events for free via its Kayo Freebies
service, if needed.
rules remain stuck in a time-warp, a spokesperson
for the company said.
laws were created in 1992 following the launch of
Foxtel at the beginning of the pay-TV era. The list
protects certain major sporting and cultural events
from disappearing behind a paywall, keeping them freely
available to the public. AFL and NRL games, the summer
and winter Olympics, Melbourne Cup, cricket Test matches
played in Australia, the Australian Open and others
are on the list.
review is looking to modernise the scope of the list
to potentially include streaming services and digital
rights. It currently applies only to broadcast and
pay-TV operators, and places no restrictions on the
acquisition of digital rights.
TVs submission says that under the governments
preferred updated model streaming services would be
allowed to cherry pick the biggest and
most culturally significant live-streaming rights.
approach of putting limited teaser content
in front of paywalls is essentially a loss-leading
strategy designed to eventually upsell subscriptions
and grow advertising revenue at the expense of local
TV services, the submission says.
government has been reviewing the scheme since October
last year, announcing an interim list in March. On
Friday, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland added
Matildas FIFA World Cup matches to the list, after
the teams success this year.
should not be forced to pay to watch these events
that they currently enjoy for free and this is more
important than ever with current cost-of-living pressures,
Free TV Australia chair Greg Hywood said.
to digital rights is a crucial commercial battleground,
with more Australians choosing to view content through
pay, and free streaming services such as 9Now or 7Plus
rather than on a linear broadcast device.
is probably the most important review of the anti-siphoning
rules since they were established, Bridget Fair,
chief executive of Free TV said.