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Wednesday, 9 March 2005
Page: 132


Senator CONROY (6:47 PM) —by leave—I move:

(1)    Schedule 1, page 3 (after line 20), at the end of the Schedule, add:

3 Paragraph 10(1)(e) of Schedule 2

Repeal the paragraph, substitute:

              (e)    the licensee will not acquire the right to televise, on a subscription television broadcasting service, a commercial television broadcasting service or a national broadcasting service an event that is specified in a notice under subsection 115(1) unless:

                    (i)    a national broadcaster has the right to televise the event on its broadcasting service; or

                   (ii)    the television broadcasting services of commercial television broadcasting licensees who have the right to televise the event cover a total of more than 50% of the Australian population;

          (eaa)    the licensee will not communicate to the public, or permit to be communicated to the public, on a subscription television broadcasting service an event to which the right to televise has been acquired in breach of subparagraph 10(l)(e)(i);

(2)    Schedule 1, page 3 (after line 20), at the end of the Schedule, add:

4  After subclause 10(1B)

Insert:

       (1C)    For the purposes of paragraph (1)(e), if a related party of a subscription television broadcasting licensee acquires the right to televise an event, the licensee is taken also to have acquired the right. For this purpose, related party of the licensee means:

              (a)    a person who is in a position to exercise control of the licensee; or

              (b)    a person in respect of whom the licensee is in a position to exercise control; or

              (c)    a person who is in a position to exercise control of a person mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b); or

              (d)    a person in respect of whom a person mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) is in a position to exercise control.

As I mentioned in the second reading debate, the intention of the antisiphoning regime is to limit the likelihood that events that have traditionally been shown on free-to-air television will migrate exclusively. Labor believes that the ability of third parties such as channel providers to acquire events before the free-to-air networks have the opportunity undermines the effectiveness of the regime. These amendments are not about guaranteeing free-to-air broadcasters exclusive coverage, but they do seek to ensure that the free-to-air broadcasters get the opportunity to buy the rights to list events. I emphasise again: in Labor’s view this is consistent with the original intent of the antisiphoning regime.

The first item on the page replaces the existing licence condition in paragraph 10(1)(e) of schedule 2 of the act with a new, stronger condition. One of the key changes made is that, under the new condition, licensees will be specifically prohibited from buying the free-to-air rights to listed events unless a commercial broadcaster has already acquired those rights. The other major change is contained in subparagraph (iv) of the new licence condition. This makes clear that pay TV licensees are not able to communicate an event to the public which is included on the antisiphoning list unless the rights to the event have already been acquired by a free-to-air broadcaster. This new provision is intended to settle the debate about whether a pay TV licensee could broadcast an event even if it has not acquired the rights. The Senate committee noted that this issue was not settled. The department and free TV presented conflicting advice on the matter.

Progress reported.