Fox Sports fears Seven’s Olympics subscription deal will destroy sports broadcasting in Australia

Fox Sports chief executive, Patrick Delany, has warned if anti-siphoning rules are not included in media reform legislation now before the Senate, the sports broadcasting industry could be permanently damaged.

Delany TonaghDelany, whose channel was named ASTRA channel of the year at the conference, used the occasion to voice his concerns at the damage anti-siphoning laws – and in particular Seven’s purchase of Olympic Games digital rights, putting them behind a pay-wall – to warn about the implications of continuing to postpone changes to the laws.

“The recent Olympics, where every event is on the list but Seven doesn’t have to show it live, free, or at all, but for very little cost can pick up a pay TV platform and basically offer it now means that the market is now being contorted by this and it’s going to lead to bad outcomes for our country,” Delany told Mumbrella.

“There is not a better example of why they need to look at this.’

Delany was continuing a theme that was repeated throughout the day at the conference – from Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh down – that anti-siphoning, an issue the industry has been fighting for 20 years, remained one of its most significant issues.

“Dividing things out by technology when the technologies now can deliver the same outcomes is silly and they need to re-look at the laws and if they do want to have a public interest outcome, frame laws that have one rather than ones that contort the market,” he said.

Delany admitted he did not know what needed to be said differently to change the approach legislators were taking to anti-siphoning concerns.

“We are at a loss to understand why it can’t change and I think maybe the answer, the thing that needs to be said is look at it again – the whole lot,” he said.

“It is a complex issue and it’s one that probably the voters don’t understand the impact on the country.”

He said that there would be a point where every broadcaster would be a digital broadcaster.

“At some point everyone offers broadband, everyone’s over the internet and there’s no differentiation I suppose.”

The Fox Sports CEO also highlighted where new opportunities were for the broadcaster, with major sports rights such as the AFL and NRL not up for grabs until 2022 and said he believed that despite the incursion of Optus winning the English Premier League rights, the soon to be discussed Football Federation Australia rights would be retained.

“We have also indicated to the FFA that we would be willing to broaden the free-to-air TV coverage to a commercial network with a better game.”

More channels, connecting with more sports would also be a key to the future model.

“It’s deeper emotional connection,” he said.

“Possibly more dedicated channels, so that you can really represent and be the champion of certain sports and the fans of those sports.”

He said many smaller sports would find the opportunity to be broadcast and Fox Sports would help build the profile of those sports in the way that it had grown the Hyundai A-League and Cricket Big Bash.


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