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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2184

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (21:09): You have raised a number of issues, which I'll endeavour to deal with in turn. Whenever you are looking at an issue such as the restriction of gambling advertising, it is always about seeking to balance community safeguards, seeking to balance how and when legal products should and shouldn't be able to be advertised and also, in the case of subscription TV, taking into account that there are different technical and logistical arrangements in terms of those particular broadcast services. I make those general comments by way of context. In terms of having 8.30 pm as the point after which there can be some gambling advertising during live sporting events, 8.30 pm is recognised, and has been recognised in other codes, as the point at which there is a greater capacity for certain products to be advertised. Alcohol is one such example. There are fewer restrictions on alcohol advertising after 8.30 pm. So 8.30 pm is already recognised as a relevant time zone.

The purpose of having 5 am until 8.30 pm as the period where there are restrictions on gambling advertising during live sport is to create a clearly identifiable safe zone so that parents will know that after 8.30 pm they may be in a position where they need to exercise greater parental supervision. This recognises what is already a time zone at 8.30 pm, as in the case of alcohol products. It makes it clear to parents and families when there may need to be closer supervision.

I should also point out—and this is something that Senator O'Neill touched on before—that the Gillard government put in place some restrictions. Those restrictions will remain in place after 8.30 pm. Appendix 3 of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice already restricts when betting advertisements or promotion of odds is permitted. For example, during a live sporting event, gambling advertisements may not be shown at designated times such as before or after play and during scheduled and unscheduled breaks in play. In addition, the promotion of odds is not permitted during play or in scheduled breaks or unscheduled breaks during a live sporting event. That situation remains unaltered.

In terms of the particular situation of subscription television and the decision of ACMA to cast and register the codes as they have, ACMA is already required to act in a way that is consistent with the objects of the regulatory policies set out in the Broadcasting Services Act. In particular, before registering a new or amended broadcasting industry code, under part 9 of the Broadcasting Services Act the ACMA must be satisfied that the code provides the appropriate community safeguards. ACMA is an experienced regulator and does take into account the technical circumstances of particular broadcasters alongside the objective of enhancing community protection in this area.