Free TV channels set to lose sports rights when they won’t show them live

The government has reportedly decided that free to air stations will no longer be able to keep the rights to sporting events they do not broadcast live.  

According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief political correspondent Phillip Coorey, the decision was taken by media minister Stephen Conroy several months ago, but was parked until after the election. Coorey reports:

“They are awaiting sign-off by the cabinet and will be enacted by regulation before December 31, when the current anti-siphoning list expires.”

At present the rights to a long list of sporting events cannot be sold to subscription television, even if the free to air channels do not show it, or show only highlights or delayed coverage.

The intention of the legislation is to protect the public from having to pay a subscription in order to watch big sporting events. However, in many cases it has meant that live coverage has simply been unavailable.

The new “use it or lose it” rules would allow the free-to-airs to run sport on their digital channels, which is not currently allowed by the anti-siphoning legislation which was drawn up before the dawn of multichannelling.

One of the reasons the Ten Network launched its relatively low rating channel One was in anticipation of such a rule change.


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