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Broadcasters brace for budget cuts as ad ban looms on live sport

Australia’s free-to-air and subscription TV broadcasters are already framing new budgets based on the possibility of a ban on gambling ads during live sport being announced as early as next week.

Broadcasters are bracing for a budget hit if ad ban is brought in

After years of debate surrounding the growing number of betting ads in live sports events, sources in the gambling industry told Mumbrella they expect a move to be made in coming days ahead of the federal budget.

The Australian reported that the proposal will be taken to cabinet next week.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has declined to comment on the proposed ban with a spokesperson for the minister saying: “The government does not comment on speculation about its deliberations.”

The “siren to siren” ban would see the end of a vital revenue source for the networks, with ads shifted to before and after events, and onto other platforms which are not yet regulated.

Industry estimates suggest marketing spending in the wagering industry has increased almost three-fold between 2011 and 2015, up from $119m to $328m during that time.

The increase has helped broadcasters fund record sports rights deals with the likes of the AFL and NRL.

As spending on marketing in the sector has increased, the government has come under increased pressure to limit the amount of betting-based advertising during live sports from community and anti-gambling groups.

Some wagering companies have also called for a limit on ads as the sector becomes increasingly cluttered.

Tabcorp said it had been advocating for some time for a limit on the volume of ads.

“We have for a long time been saying that the extent of gambling advertising is out of step with the community expectations,” Tabcorp GM corporate affairs Nicholas Tzaferis told Mumbrella.

In February Free TV Australia slammed a proposal by the ALP  to ban betting ads during live sports, warning it would place traditional broadcasters at a disadvantage to competitors on digital platforms which were not subject to regulation.

However, Mumbrella understands both free-to-air and subscription TV broadcasters have framed budget outlooks based on a siren-to-siren ban being brought in.

Mumbrella’s Sports Marketing Summit is being held on July 21 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Amongst the many topics being tackled is the future of alcohol advertising in sport. To see the program and to buy tickets, click here

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