SBS downplays reports it will scale back football coverage

SBSMulticultural public broadcaster SBS has downplayed suggestions it is considering a dramatic reduction in its football coverage, insisting it remains “committed” to the sport.

But the public broadcaster stopped short of categorically denying Fairfax Media reports that talks had taken place with other free-to-air networks about offloading its rights to screen A-League matches for the next two seasons.

Reports in The Age said SBS’s content division had identified football as being expendable, with coverage of the sport likely to be scaled back.

While the network has the rights to broadcast one live A-League match each week until 2016/17, “tentative discussions” have opened on relinquishing its coverage, the newspaper reported.

Responding to the story, SBS head of group communications Jessica Harris said in a statement: “SBS has an esteemed 30 year pedigree in football and is committed to the game’s future.

“SBS delivered the biggest World Cup in Australia’s history in 2014, with all 64 matches live on all platforms for the first time.

“Our current contracts are for the exclusive rights to the World Cup until 2022, the Friday night A-League games until 2016-17. The rights for the Champions League are up for renewal this year and it is our intention to bid competitively for those rights.”

She added that SBS continues to invest its “modest resources into content which delivers on the SBS Charter”.

“Football, which unites our diverse communities, is an important part of our commitment,” Harris said.

Steve Jones


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