Footy And Netball Fans Left Waiting

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18th September 2008, 05:36pm - Views: 632

MEDIA RELEASE 18 September 2008


ASTRA has cited the significantly delayed coverage of this weekend's football finals and the
recent delays in the broadcast of the Australia-New Zealand international netball match as a
powerful reason why the Federal Government should adopt a new approach to restrictive
sports rights regulation.

Fans of NRL defending premiers Melbourne Storm will have to wait four hours in Victoria to
watch their team play Brisbane in the elimination semi-final this weekend, instead getting a
movie called Take The Lead and drama series Fringe.

NRL fans will have to wait an hour in Sydney and Brisbane before the elimination semi-final
goes to air on Friday between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors.

Saturday's second elimination semi between Brisbane and reigning premiers Melbourne will be
delayed in Melbourne until 11.30pm on Network Nine, four hours after the game actually starts.

ASTRA has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to reduce the length of the restrictive
anti-siphoning list, which allows free-to-air networks (FTA) a monopoly first right to buy sports
that are repeatedly not shown live and nationally.

The anti-siphoning list includes more than 4,700 sporting events in an Olympic year, and is
leaving sports fans effectively waiting for delayed sport.

And despite having the rights to broadcast the AFL Preliminary Finals live, FTA networks will
delay the broadcast by up to two hours.

Friday's Preliminary final between defending premiers Geelong and the Western Bulldogs will
be delayed by Network Seven by an hour across New South Wales, Queensland and Perth,
with AFL fans again forced to watch programs like Better Homes and Gardens and Deal or No
Deal instead.

On Saturday night Network Ten will show the movie Stuart Little instead of the second
preliminary final between Hawthorn and St Kilda will be delayed by two hours in NSW and

ASTRA CEO Debra Richards says AFL fans in NSW and Queensland in particular are being
treated extremely poorly by the current legislation and conduct of FTA networks.

"The solution to providing more live sport on television and the choice of more live sport on
subscription television is to remove events from the list that aren't currently shown live and
nationally, with all broadcasters to compete fairly for the rights to broadcast these events."

"Despite having the ability to broadcast these matches live, the FTA networks continue the
delaying tactics. It's good enough for them to show the grand final live nationally, but not so for
the matches that actually determine the two teams that make the grand final."

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Netball fans are also up in arms over yesterday's match between Australia and arch rival New
Zealand being delayed until after 11pm on Network Ten last night, with further delays in
Adelaide and Perth. Fans won't be any more pleased when they find the second test
scheduled at 11pm across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales on Saturday night.

"The FTA networks are letting down sports fans with their delayed coverage. They are allowed
to do this because they bought the rights to show these sports under the cover of the anti-
siphoning list which is in urgent need of reform," Ms Richards said.

ASTRA's proposal to reform the restrictive anti-siphoning list would benefit all Australian sports
fans and lead to:

More sport on television;
Allow FTA networks to keep what is currently shown on FTA television;
Allow all broadcasters to compete for events not currently shown;
Encourage competition for sports rights and;
Assist in digital television take-up

The recent Olympic Games demonstrated the need for urgent reform. Australian viewers
missed out on seeing key events live, including gold medal winners Steve Hooker and Matthew
Mitcham. The table below summarises the detrimental effect the legislation is having on live
sport this week.


Further information: Debra Richards 0418236174

Sport FTA Channel Delayed
AFL Preliminary Final - Channel Seven and 1 Hour, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and
Friday Prime regional NSW & QLD
30 mins in Melbourne
NRL Elimination Semi-Final Channel Nine and 1 Hour Sydney, Brisbane.
- Friday WIN After Midnight in Melbourne and across
regional Victoria
AFL Preliminary Final - Channel Ten Two Hours in Sydney and Brisbane
Saturday 30 minutes in Melbourne
NRL Elimination Semi-Final Channel Nine and Four Hours Delay in Melbourne and
- Saturday WIN Regional Victoria for Melbourne Storm
Netball: Australia v New Channel Ten and After 11pm last night
Zealand Southern Cross
Netball: Australia v New Channel Ten and 11pm on Saturday night
Zealand series 2 Southern Cross

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ASTRA supports the principle of Use it Or Lose it to reform the restrictive sports anti-siphoning

The sports anti-siphoning list gives free-to-air television a monopoly first right to a vast number
of sporting events and represents substantial industry protection for the FTA networks.

The anti-siphoning list was enacted back in 1994 to keep sports events of cultural and national
significance on FTA television.

However with 1300 events named, and over 4,700 events in an Olympic year, the list has
moved well beyond its original intention and its use by date. Thousands of events have never
been broadcast, while others are shown on significant delay.

It has regularly been used by the FTA networks to the detriment of Australian sports fans.

Independent ACMA monitoring shows that the FTA networks do not broadcast many events on
the list and delay many more. For example, the publicly available ACMA reports show that:

Channel Seven broadcast live less than 5% of the Winter Olympics;
Channel Nine broadcast less than 10% of last year's Wimbledon tournament;
The French Open Tennis Tournament was not broadcast at all by any FTA networks;
5 out of 8 weekly NRL matches are not broadcast at all by FTAs; and
4 out of 8 weekly AFL matches are not broadcast at all by the FTAs.

ASTRA has called on the Federal Government to reduce the length of the anti-siphoning list to
put more sport on free-to-air television and to give Australians the choice of more sport on
subscription television.

ASTRA represents the major subscription television providers AUSTAR, FOXTEL & OPTUS
and the many channels that provide services on these platforms.

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