Conroy watched cricket, Formula One and tennis on TV networks as he gave them multi-million dollar fee discounts

Media minister Stephen Conroy has enjoyed hospitality from the three major free TV networks at the same time he decided to give them millions of dollars of discounts on their licence fees, research published by the Sydney Morning Herald reveals.

The SMH has digitised the Federal register of interests. It reveals that over the last couple of years, Channel Ten provided Conroy with tickets for the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix; Nine provided him with an Ashes invite and Seven gave him two seats at the men’s final of the Australian Open tennis.

Conroy also received a gift basket from the Seven Network and SBS gave him tickets for the Fifa World Cup in South Africa.

The last two years have seen Conroy make a number of concessions to the free TV networks worth millions of dollars. He granted them a 33% rebate on their licence fees in 2010. The next year, he upped the discount to 50%. The discounts have been estimated as being worth between a third and half a billion dollars to the networks to date.

The original announcement saw Conroy claim that the generous decision was to “protect Australian content on commercial television” although no new quotas were attached to the discount.

Conroy – whose Parliamentary salary is more than $330,000 plus allowances – also enjoyed tickets to the AFL grand final, the NRL grand final; the UEFA Champions League final and the Melbourne Cup. And he has also enjoyed a number of upgrades and hospitality from the Dubai Royal family-owned airline Emirates. Hospitality also came from Telstra and Optus.

There is no suggestion that Conroy broke any parliamentary rules in accepting the hospitality.

The SMH’s data on Conroy:


conroy interests smh

(Mumbrella’s own register of gifts and hospitality can be viewed via this link.)


  1. Ann
    1 Sep 12
    3:42 pm

  2. It is a compelling website, people should open each and every MP, its an eye opener. Especially when you rank who owns real estate.

  3. Mike
    3 Sep 12
    8:14 am

  4. Loving it!
    Conroy’s true colours finally exposed.
    Conroy who sought to implement a totalitarian web control regime, and assumed the high moral ground in attempting it.
    Conroy who indebted Australian taxpayers for a generation on the NBN folly.
    Whether this is chickens coming home to roost, or plain old Karma doing its thing I don’t care. His come-uppance is coming.

  5. Technojames
    3 Sep 12
    9:37 am

  6. Is the implication that Stephen Conroy gave MILLION dollar benefits to TV stations in exchange for tickets to the Ashes??

    Mumbrella should leave these stories to the Murdoch papers and keep the focus back on the media industry.

  7. mumbrella
    3 Sep 12
    9:58 am

  8. No James,

    That’s not the inference. But it certainly suggests that the TV companies have gone out of their way to lobby him.

    You appear to be arguing that the list of Conroy’s hospitality should not be written about by us. I’d argue that when he has such a key role in setting public media policy it’s pretty relevant to cover when we write about media and marketing.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  9. Technojames
    3 Sep 12
    12:17 pm

  10. I’m not arguing it shouldn’t be written about by Mumbrella.

    I’m stating that the inference is clear:

    “Conroy watched cricket, Formula One and tennis on TV networks as he gave them multi-million dollar fee discounts”

    I think there are plenty of options for reporting this than the one you’ve taken.

    PS – Maybe the overall role of free to air media in determining government policy??

  11. Flared Pants
    3 Sep 12
    1:05 pm

  12. OMG. Just as well no other government in history has successfully been lobbied.

    Move along folks, nothing special to see here.

  13. Andrew
    3 Sep 12
    1:28 pm

  14. technojames says mumbrella should ‘leave these stories to the Murdoch press’, implying what? And he asks rather disingenously if the inference is that Conroy gave MILLION dollar benefits to the free to air netwroks in exchange for tickets to the Ashes. He is either naive or wilfully blind to the ways of the world.

    What the list of gifts and benefits Conroy has enjoyed from FTAs shows is Conroy’s lack of political common sense. When as Minister you waive half a billion dollars worth of licence fees for the FTAs who are competiting with Subscription TV, you should avoid the appearance of being so cosy with the grateful FTAs that you enjor their rather lavish hospitality, especially when the only rationale you offer is a vague ‘protecting Aussie content’. The licence fee savings for the FTAs are a major commercial factor in their business. It’s about profits; that’s why Conroy’s gifts look shabby. If you look at it that way, you could say they are FTAs’ thank you notes.

    But can you imagine Conroy publicly thanking each of the networks for his free tickets and gifts? Did the networks make these gifts in the harsh glare of publicity, eg announce them at a press conference?

  15. Technojames
    3 Sep 12
    2:21 pm

  16. Hi Andrew,

    I think you’re overestimating the impact of “tickets to the Ashes” in determining public policy. I don’t consider my view naive or wilfully blind.

    Let’s just weigh up some of the decision making inputs that “could” be going through Stephen Conroy’s mind.

    “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if the FTA’s gave the Federal Labor Government some favourable press over the next term… God knows the papers hate us…”


    “Oh Goody, tickets to the Grand Prix….”

    The register of interests exists for exactly this purpose. If you want to change the rules on gifts to pollies then push your local member.

    I imagine you’re an earnest person Andrew so I really suggest you withhold from calling people naive lest you come across as well….. naive.