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STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS
15/04/2009
Reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media

CHAIR —Welcome. The committee has received your submission and marked it submission No. 35. Do you wish to make any amendments or alterations to it?

Mr Sutherland —No.

CHAIR —Would each or all of you like to make a brief opening statement before we go to questions?

Mr Sutherland —Yes, I will take that opportunity.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Mr Sutherland —Firstly, accompanying me today—in case I need their specific technical knowledge—are Stephanie Beltrame, our executive in charge of media rights who deals specifically with accreditation negotiations, and Peter Young, who manages our day-to-day dealings with the media. I will make some opening comments to give a little background to our position. Having read the submissions before you today, I would say that Cricket Australia and the media who report on cricket probably agree on 95 per cent of the points being made; it is the other five per cent—if that is the number—that I want to concentrate on in making my introductory remarks.

Importantly, we and the media agree that, in embracing the digital age, the public should be able to consume cricket news wherever and on whatever platform they choose—print, TV, radio, internet or mobile phone; also, that they should be able to consume independent cricket news that reports on the game without fear or favour. Yes, we have had disagreements with the media, but each year these issues have been resolved with the organisations that provide very close to 100 per cent of the cricket news that Australians consume. The issues have been about accreditation terms and conditions of entry to venues, which we have framed simply to try to overcome the weaknesses and ambiguity in Australia’s Copyright Act. I note that these arguments have ensued, even though cricket’s terms and conditions are liberal by comparison with those applied in other countries for other major sports and their events. Debate about appropriate terms and conditions are but one small part of a broader issue that cricket has relating to a rapidly expanding market of accredited and non-accredited media and content aggregators who claim copyright exception under the guise of news reporting. The existing fair dealing exception in the act creates an imprecise and uncertain environment for both copyright owners and the media. In the current environment, which has seen a progressive creep in the unfair use of our copyright, the only genuine way to obtain certainty is through expensive time-consuming litigation.

Like most other sports, we are a not-for-profit community based sports organisation. We do not have shareholders; we have members who are ultimately represented by grassroots cricket-playing community members of Australia. Taking a media giant to court to contest the application of the wording in the Copyright Act is simply not a realistic option for us, and everyone knows it. As one or more senior media executive has said to me in the past: ‘You’ve nothing to worry about; we’ll abide by the fair use provisions of the act and, if we don’t, you can sue us.’

If you look at the specifics, disagreements in recent summers largely relate to the media using our copyright material on the basis of the act’s fair use exceptions. Fair use can be a defence for somebody else’s copyright; but, as I am sure you are all aware, it is not a right. Unfortunately, in this digital age of user-generated content, fair use is becoming increasingly disputed in relation to frequency, duration, archiving and distribution for non-news use. The existing fair use exception in the act worked historically in the traditional media landscape. TV, for instance, developed a framework of protocol called the ‘three by three by three’ convention, and cricket asked that fair use exemptions in the act be given greater clarity to accommodate digital mediums. Alternatively, if this is not possible, it asks that a code of conduct be developed, with guidelines on things like duration, frequency, volume, context, archiving and dissemination.

We firmly believe that a balance can be struck that will allow us to continue to fund our sport at the community level largely independent of government and at the same time balance the fact that media can continue to use digital technology to provide cricket fans with up-to-date news where and when they want it, via whatever platform they prefer. Australia has a proud record of being a host of major international sporting events, and we want that to continue. The right balance will encourage major global sporting bodies to keep Australia on the list of potential hosts for events such as soccer, rugby or cricket world cups, the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and other sports. Without such regulatory reform, cricket and other not-for-profit sports organisations will be left to self-regulate by offering accreditation terms that are prescriptive as to volume, frequency and duration. Unfortunately, in the absence of guidelines, the arguments will continue, as will the time-consuming and inefficient negotiation process around accreditation terms and conditions.

However, in conclusion, I note that accreditation terms are just a component of concerns raised in our submission. I remind committee members that the issue of greatest concern and least defence for sports is around the unfair use of video footage. I believe that this inquiry provides a genuine opportunity for the committee to address the issues and the damage caused by media and other parties that claim news privilege and push the fair use boundaries of the Copyright Act. We welcome the chance to speak to you today. I hope that your discussions and deliberations in the next few days can help to highlight solutions that balance sports rights and the media’s ambitions in a manner that serves the interests of the Australian public.

CHAIR —Thank you very much. Other witnesses to this inquiry have said that organisations such as yours should be pleased that there are so many forms of broadcasting footage and sports news because they attract people to your sport—viewers et cetera—and that you are shooting yourselves in the foot by going down the path of accreditation, seeking government assistance in guidelines or whatever. What do you say to that? In addition, has the transference of images to other forms of digital media affected the amount of money that you get for broadcasting rights?

Mr Sutherland —I think the starting point is to understand our role as defined within the constitution of our organisation: to promote the game of cricket amongst the Australian community. Sometimes the Australian cricket team is seen as the shop window of Australian cricket; but ultimately, as an organisation, we are striving to be Australia’s favourite sport. That is our official vision and that is what we are driving to be. It is not in our interests for the Australian public to have diminished access to our sport but, at the same time, we need to ensure that revenues and net surpluses from our activities, after operating costs, are invested in such a way that the grassroots of cricket and cricket at a community level can continue to thrive in such a way that the game continues to grow. We believe very strongly in the virtues of sport as a healthy activity for Australians but also as a binding operative within the Australian community. In itself, that is another significant factor that really underlines our vision of being Australia’s favourite sport and what we are trying to do.

CHAIR —What about the issue of the effect on the amount of revenue that you are able to earn from broadcasting rights?

Mr Sutherland —Through our dealings with media rights, we know and understand that the value in media rights is driven by an element of exclusivity; there is no doubt about that and it is an important factor. But, ultimately, we are balancing that with the need to generate income so that we can invest back into the Australian community. In recent times we have seen the inefficiency of the Copyright Act by virtue of the digital age and the extent to which we are now disadvantaged by the user-generated content that is able to be put onto the web. Indeed, in themselves, the national broadband network developments that are now mooted will create speed and access that is unprecedented. The extent to which that compromises the value of our rights will only increase and, for us, that is obviously a concern. At the moment we operate largely independently of government, but the extent to which our revenues might diminish may well change that.

CHAIR —What do you see as the impact of the new developments in the national broadband network rollout, which you have mentioned, on a sport like cricket? I do not know whether people will download a whole cricket test match in order to watch it again; but what are your projections for how people will access information about cricket?

Mr Sutherland —With the limited speed of access that cricket fans have had in recent times, we have seen a constant uplift in usage and a genuine pushing of the boundaries of fair use. That is really where it comes back to and, as speed increases, it is what we are seeing. We are not ignorant of the digital age. We absolutely want to be living in the digital age and adapting our business to the digital age. However, at the same time we also have ownership of intellectual property and copyright. We need to have that protected in such a way that the value of what we own is not diminished and we can continue to operate and service the community in the way that we do.

Ms Beltrame —Perhaps I may add to that. Just this week it has been reported that, in coming years, an estimated 95 per cent of data transmitted on line will be video, and video is where we genuinely have copyright ownership. Even a small segment of misuse of that content has the capacity to damage us severely. Longer forms may be downloaded, but even the short use of our copyright under the guise of ‘news reporting’ has the potential to really hurt us.

CHAIR —By ‘hurt us’, do you mean financially?

Ms Beltrame —Financially in the long term, yes, because it will gradually erode the value of the rights. The value that we have is in exclusivity and copyright ownership.

CHAIR —Obviously you enter into arrangements with broadcasters for your product. Does the accreditation that you give to journalists from one organisation differ from the accreditation that you give to journalists from other organisations?

Ms Beltrame —Could you please repeat your question?

CHAIR —Under your accreditation of journalists, do you treat them all the same, or are there differential arrangements with different journalists from different organisations?

Ms Beltrame —Our accreditation terms apply across the board; they are platform neutral. Our broadcasters work under different arrangements, but our accreditation is in place to accredit non-rights-holding media to come in for the purposes of gathering news content and reporting news.

Senator LUNDY —What is the nature of the agreement between Cricket Australia and the holders of the broadcast rights? What does that entitle them to do and how is copyright managed within that agreement?

Ms Beltrame —The licences or the agreements that we enter into are to offer those broadcasters or media organisations the rights to show the full broadcast of a match; we have joint copyright ownership in those.

Senator LUNDY —In sharing ownership of the copyright of that broadcast, what influence do you then have or what power do you then retain over how that shared copyright content is subsequently broadcast or used by the broadcaster?

Ms Beltrame —Generally, as my CEO mentioned in his opening remarks, amongst TV networks there has been a general protocol or a gentleman’s agreement with the ‘three by three by three’. There are no other such agreements in the digital space on line that we are referring to; it is unregulated and there are no limits. We have a vested interest in making sure that our copyright is not misused because at the end of the day, even though it is joint, we have a genuine interest, as do our other broadcast partners, in making sure that we are the ones that have the benefit of that copyright.

Senator LUNDY —For the purposes of these questions, in distinguishing between internet content per se and news content on whatever medium, as Mr Sutherland has said, how is that gentleman’s agreement—which you have referred to regarding how that shared copyright content is used for the purposes of news reporting—currently translating into news reporting in the internet environment on mobile media and in the digital mobile environment?

Ms Beltrame —It is not, unless we try to set some frameworks ourselves.

Senator LUNDY —No, it is; it is happening. But I want you to describe for the committee how it is currently happening and why you have concerns with how it is happening.

Ms Beltrame —The characteristics of the digital landscape are fantastic and everybody has the opportunity to benefit from those characteristics. But our concerns go to those characteristics also enabling there to be unlimited scope and unlimited capacity or storage and for time not to be an issue. If there are no frameworks or guidelines in place, there are no limitations around how the content can be used, how frequently it can be updated and how long it can stay on line. We heard in some earlier submissions that news—it is certainly not our intention to define ‘news’—has a life span and can reoccur down the track if something else happens that is related and newsworthy. But at the moment content can stay on line for an inordinate amount of time and well beyond its ‘perishable date’, if you like.

Senator LUNDY —What are your observations about how that shared copyright content is currently being used in an online environment? That is, do you think it is being abused and can you describe specifically how that is occurring?

Ms Beltrame —We believe that it is being abused in that it remains on line for an extended amount of time. It is used to be monetised, perhaps by advertising. Sports content via video is the most attractive way that organisations or content aggregators can draw people—

Senator LUNDY —I am sorry, but are we still talking about this content as it is used within news?

Ms Beltrame —Yes.

Senator LUNDY —So are you making these statements in relation to the content as it appears in news stories?

Ms Beltrame —Yes. Content is used in news stories and can be repackaged on line by media groups and it is the amount of use and the length of time or duration of a clip or news report.

Senator LUNDY —So it is the duration of a clip.

Ms Beltrame —Yes, the duration of a clip.

Senator LUNDY —What do you think it should be restricted to?

Ms Beltrame —Obviously, that is something that is up for discussion. It can vary with news reporting and with sport. Sport has nuances, different formats and different time lengths. It would need to be further discussed. Certainly, in the UK, for example, there are guidelines that specify that clips on line need to be removed after 24 hours. To answer your question regarding how we think it is being misused, it is the duration of clips; it is the amount of time that a clip can stay on line and be pulled down on demand by fans; and it is also in relation to sponsorship of those clips, where there might be implied associations with our copyright material.

CHAIR —I would like a practical example of what I think Senator Lundy is asking about. Before the advent of digital media, if there was a news story where a cricketer got into trouble with the police or something like that, a news outlet—for example, the Adelaide Advertiser*—would trawl through its photos of that cricketer, which it had taken perhaps 10 years earlier, and publish one of them in the paper along with that news story. I presume that a newspaper that had such photos would be entitled to publish them. How is that any different from the situation today, when a news outlet wants to package a story about that cricketer and goes on line and downloads a bit of footage of him cracking the tonne or something like that to illustrate its story? What is different?

Ms Beltrame —I think, from the outset, it is important to note that we do not dispute that there is a genuine role for the reporting of news. If a photograph was to appear in a newspaper—a genuine bona fide editorial product—I do not believe that we would have any problem whatsoever. I will put the case where there is an amount of vision of that player playing in a match, which is where we have copyright ownership. Again, if a reasonable amount of vision was used within a clip that discussed the actual news event and not the player’s performance in that match but the incident that may have happened, we accept that there is a case for using that copyright material as a genuine news report.

CHAIR —But you say that it should be taken off digital or online within 48 hours or after a couple of days or something like that, which would mean that it then is not available to the media outlet.

Ms Beltrame —That is after the particular sporting event. However, there will always be occasions where things may become newsworthy again down the track. Under that circumstance, we are certainly not proposing that the content can never reappear again. If it is for the genuine reporting of news, then—

Mr Sutherland —If it becomes newsworthy again, clearly it is news and, therefore, there is an entitlement for it to be used.

Senator LUNDY —I think everyone is at odds with a lot of this but, in essence, we are all arguing about the same thing. It seems to me that you are arguing for internet content to be analogous with the way that traditionally broadcast television media has been managed. But what if you looked at it as analogous to newspaper media? I have never seen Cricket Australia mount an argument that somehow previous reporting or published reports of cricket news in newspapers not be made available on newspaper websites or in the country’s archives or its various repositories, such as libraries and so forth. I just do not understand why you are choosing to try to manage this content, once it effectively becomes a form of news as is the product and content of a media organisation, and restrict its access in a way that, were it a newspaper report, you would never even fathom to do.

Mr Sutherland —I guess this is the nub of the issue. Firstly, what is ‘news’ and when is it news and fair use, as an exception under the Copyright Act, and when is it not? We submit that currently there are practices within the media and content aggregators of unfair use of our copyright in such a way. It is interesting—and you are right—that we are arguing the same thing. There was a report in the Australian two days ago about Associated Press having a dispute with content aggregators who were taking editorial content out of newspaper websites and uploading it onto their websites. I do not hear or read any of that in the submissions of these agencies, but they too have a problem with the digital age and the fact that their copyright and intellectual property is being used in such a way. So we are all actually arguing about the same thing. This is where it comes back to our suggestions: ideally perhaps there should be some sort of legislative reform or, if that is not possible, there should be some guidelines that give everyone who is working in that space some additional comfort and understanding about the way in which this content, whether news or copyright owned, can be used.

Senator LUNDY —To what extent does Cricket Australia invest in its own web presence? Also, how does that investment compare with your capacity, for example, to invest in junior sport? What emphasis are you putting on your own web presence and your capacity to innovate and be entrepreneurial about that presence?

Mr Sutherland —We have our own website at cricket.com.au, which is funded internally. Previously we had an arrangement with ninemsn, where they were effectively a licensee acting on our behalf. We have decided to go in house with that because we feel that serves the interests of the cricket community much better. So there is an aspect of it that is news; but there is also an aspect of it that serves the community, for example, in that all of the scores of the cricket matches played over the course of a weekend, around the country, are accessible through our website. We are spending millions of dollars in developing the capacity of the digital platform to enable its use to serve the cricket community at a grassroots level, in terms of people not only knowing their scores and so on but also being able to access cricket news and understand what is happening in the cricket world.

Senator LUNDY —So you, yourselves, want to be a supplier of news content.

Mr Sutherland —We see that it is a role for us in servicing the community, but there is absolutely nothing at our end to suggest that we want to impinge on the legitimate right of news agencies or organisations to report news—absolutely nothing. I think that is a very important point that we do not want committee members to lose sight of. We absolutely support and understand the rights of unfettered access to news, within the intended bounds of the Copyright Act.

Senator LUNDY —You say ‘within the bounds of the Copyright Act’, but news is news and it is not constrained by the Copyright Act per se.

Mr Sutherland —Through the Copyright Act, the broadcast of and the intellectual property within our cricket matches is rightfully owned by us; at some stage that becomes news.

Senator LUNDY —Sure, the content, but you acknowledge that news per se is not constrained by the Copyright Act.

Mr Sutherland —There is an exception where that content can be used in such a way for the purposes of news. But, at the same time, an extended use or an unfair use of that content is where it crosses the line again into a space where, under the Copyright Act, it is not permissible. Our submission is that the Copyright Act, which was drafted with all good intentions outside of the digital age, has become somewhat ambiguous now and does not deal with the challenges of user-generated content and other issues.

Senator LUNDY —I think that is a matter of perspective, with due respect. It is when a body believes that there is an opportunity to pursue within the digital environment that that becomes an issue. I think one of the big lessons out of the economy of the music industry, for example, is that organisations that try to persist in utilising copyright law and intellectual property law to retain old models eventually lose out. The challenge stands before cricket and other sports organisations to stay at the forefront of the management and production of their own websites, their own digital products per se, rather than to begin to draw on provisions of the Copyright Act to try to protect their rights under a regime that is not designed perfectly around the digital environment.

Mr Sutherland —It is certainly not designed perfectly around the digital environment; I think we all accept that.

Senator LUNDY —But it is not designed to constrain it either. It is designed, I think, to acknowledge that it exists, but really it puts the challenge out there for all organisations to take it somewhere new.

Mr Sutherland —We absolutely accept that and we are very keen to ensure that we are living in the digital age and stay ahead of that. At the same time, as a sporting organisation or a not-for-profit organisation, we are, by definition, servicing the Australian community. The other side of the argument is being brought forward and presented—notwithstanding, certainly, the desire to have news represented in a completely clear and transparent fashion—by privately owned oligopolies that are pushing a different barrow. There is certainly discussion in those submissions about unfettered access and pure news. But ultimately, as we know, these organisations that are distinct from us—’us’ being a not-for-profit organisation—are also trying to generate income for their private shareholders.

Senator LUNDY —Just on that, do you sell exclusive internet rights?

Mr Sutherland —No. Our internet rights are all held in house.

Ms Beltrame —In Australia.

Senator LUNDY —So you do not have an arrangement with any organisation for the reporting of cricket on the internet.

Mr Sutherland —Not in Australia.

Ms Beltrame —No. We do not sell internet rights in Australia so that a fan can go on to the internet and watch a match in full. There are other means by which fans can follow a match—watching it on television or their mobile phone or listening to it on the radio.

Senator LUNDY —What is the nature of the contractual agreement with Hutchison 3 with respect to highlights and news via mobile phone content?

Ms Beltrame —Our agreement with Hutchison 3 mobile is that we license them the right to show the match in full on mobile phones. They also have some other rights in respect of being able to use our logos and to demonstrate that they have an official association with Cricket Australia.

Senator LUNDY —In that sense, it is not an internet right; it is a mobile phone content right to show the match. That is an exclusive arrangement with Hutchison.

Ms Beltrame —In the same way that we have arrangements with Channel 9 and ABC radio, yes.

Senator LUNDY —Does that impact or restrict news reporting in any way on that mobile phone environment? Does that prevent news reporting anywhere else in that environment?

Ms Beltrame —No. If news content is available via the internet and fans can access the internet through their mobile phone, they have every opportunity to obtain or access any news information that they seek.

Senator LUNDY —So it does not have an impact.

Ms Beltrame —No.

Senator LUNDY —In the 2007-08 season, several major media organisations boycotted the first test in Brisbane. Is it true that Cricket Australia tried to charge some media organisations a fee for accreditation for that event?

Ms Beltrame —No, that is not correct. During some of the discussions we had, we proposed scenarios where we suggested what Associated Press have suggested: when they license content, people pay a fee. But in no way have we, in our terms and conditions, ever stated that there is an accreditation fee to be paid.

Senator LUNDY —Were you asking for a fee if certain opportunities were made available to media organisations? Were you trying to charge anyone for doing something that you thought was over and above the bounds of normal accreditation or access?

Ms Beltrame —No. As I said, I think it may have come up in discussion where we proposed different scenarios.

Senator LUNDY —I am sorry; I do not understand what you mean by ‘proposed different scenarios’.

Ms Beltrame —Trying to propose analogies perhaps where, for example, different content may have been paid for, such as with newspapers selling photographs to members of the public. That, by definition, is not news but something that we permit because we accept that it is a service that they provide to members of the public. In no way did we ever state in our terms and conditions that we would charge a fee.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —I am mindful of the time and I will try to save policy questions for COMPS and so on. Just for a bit of clarity, who is entitled to take video footage at Cricket Australia games?

Mr Sutherland —The chief television licensee is the only one allowed to take footage of live content. Post-match we let people into the ground to be in attendance for interviews, press conferences and what have you.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Obviously, Channel 9 supplies that content to Hutchison 3 as a cross-contractual arrangement that no doubt CA helps to negotiate in some way, shape or form.

Ms Beltrame —Yes, that is correct.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —What, if anything, prohibits you then from placing restrictions on Channel 9, as the sole taker of video footage at Cricket Australia games, around how that footage is subsequently used in an online environment?

Mr Sutherland —There are contractual limits for Channel 9 in terms of their use, but ultimately the access of that is free. I am not sure exactly through what mechanism it is that other news organisations have access to that; but ultimately they do and then they can use it outside, under the guise of news.

Ms Beltrame —Yes, that is correct. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think you are asking whether we specify how that broadcast is to be used by media.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —That is right. In your contractual arrangement with Channel 9, do you specify, ‘You’re allowed to broadcast this on the Nine Network free to air and you’re allowed to provide this to Hutchison 3 under commercial arrangements we have; we recognise and respect the ‘three by three by three’ gentleman’s agreement with the other television broadcasters; but you are not entitled to use that footage on any other platform or in any other way’? Is there anything to prohibit you from doing that?

Mr Sutherland —For example, Channel 9, which is affiliated with the ninemsn website, cannot show live footage or extended highlights packages of the cricket on its website without our authority.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Is there anything to prevent you restricting or stopping their showing non-live footage on the ninemsn website or other websites?

Ms Beltrame —No. The agreement with Channel 9 specifically enables them to show the broadcast on free-to-air television; it does not enable them to show the full broadcast on their internet site. Channel 9 makes the vision available for news access purposes, and we do not specify how that is to be used.

Mr Sutherland —But are you asking about the mechanism by which it is more freely used than in the market and whether we have any control over ninemsn? I am not sure of the specific mechanism by which other networks have access to the—

Ms Beltrame —We do enable Channel 9, as our broadcast partners, to have the right to use an extended amount of vision of up to 10 minutes. So, under our agreement, both Channel 9 and Cricket Australia are allowed to display up to 10 minutes of match vision on their respective internet sites. Other television networks get access under news access agreements. As we have mentioned, television networks have their own sort of protocol amongst themselves, which is the ‘three by three by three’ protocol, which is about television networks using no more than three minutes of vision, three hours apart and no more than three times a day.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Mr Sutherland, I am trying to get to the heart of your saying in your opening statement that, in the end, your prime concern, when you strip everything away, is the unfair use of video footage—

Mr Sutherland —Yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —and it is that unfair use of video footage on the internet and in digital platforms.

Mr Sutherland —Yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —If only one person is licensed by you to take that footage at your games, what, if anything, prevents you from restricting subsequently their use of that footage and their sharing of that footage so that it does not end up in other platforms and you do not end up with issues of fair use?

Mr Sutherland —I understand what you are getting at now; I am sorry about that. The issue is that the access another network or another news organisation has to the cricket can come from anywhere; it does not come specifically from Channel 9. In this day and age, within a matter of seconds, they can record something off a television box, repackage it and download it on to their website. They do this under the guise of news, which is an exception under the Copyright Act. As for any protection that we have, Channel 9, do not share, as such, that content. There might be ways in which they do share certain footage; I am not sure exactly how the networks work together. But anyone can pull or rip that footage off television—even their own television—recording and then downloading it, in such a way that we have no control.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Obviously we will be talking to Channel 9 at a later stage in this inquiry and we will be able to ask then whether they see the way this occurs as a problem and whether tighter regulation should exist. But, from your understanding and interpretation, people are able to do that under the general terms of such fair use provisions.

Mr Sutherland —Yes. To be clear, as you would understand, our rights holders are on both sides of the fence. There are sporting events, for example, that the Nine Network does not have the rights to and, under the guise of fair use, it will use those accordingly for its news services.

Senator WORTLEY —In your submission, you state:

CA endorses the rights of news and media organisations to sports information for the purpose of bona fide news reporting, regardless of technology platform or channel.

There is an implication there that, by the use of the words ‘bona fide’, you have concerns that some of the reporting is not news reporting. Would you like to comment on that?

Ms Beltrame —That is correct. We have spoken about the fact that, because of the characteristics of the digital age, anybody can access information or create content in being a content aggregator. Traditional media groups are now diversifying and becoming broadcasters and acquiring businesses, so actual ownership is expanding; but anybody really can start up an internet site and aggregate content. So you are correct: we would have some concerns about organisations that may position themselves as bona fide news but whose core business, in fact, is not about news but about other commercial operations.

Senator WORTLEY —What does Cricket Australia believe the consequences for cricket in Australia would be, should the current state of play not change—that is, if it should be without regulatory reform? Also, what evidence do you have on which to base your comments in this regard?

Mr Sutherland —I think it is built on a very clear understanding that the value in media rights—I am talking particularly about broadcast rights—is built on an element of exclusivity. That exclusivity is being eroded by the vagueness or the ambiguity of the Copyright Act and living in the digital age. We see right now and have seen over the last decade a continual pushing of the boundaries and a continual use of footage, for example, under the guise of news. That will continue to grow exponentially, particularly as technology improves and there is increasing bandwidth and the public has increasingly fast access to content. The ultimate impact of that on Cricket Australia is that, as a not-for-profit organisation that serves the Australian community, we will be significantly disadvantaged and impinged. We do not have the tools or the mechanisms to protect ourselves from that and we believe that is not in the Australian public’s interest.

CHAIR —Perhaps I could just jump in here. Do you have any evidence that Cricket Australia has been disadvantaged so far in terms of revenue? People say, ‘It’s going to affect us,’ but where is the hard evidence that your revenues are being affected by increases in forms of transmission?

Mr Sutherland —Our media rights agreements are being extended. Our current Channel 9 agreement is a seven-year agreement, which we are in the middle of right now, so we have not specifically seen the impact of that. But we know what the key levers are to value and to driving that value. We do not necessarily have a specific way of showing or illustrating that, but we know and understand the value drivers and that they will impact on the value of our rights into the future.

Senator WORTLEY —Are you saying that, should there not be regulatory reform, the money you gain from your media packaging and so on will diminish?

Mr Sutherland —That is our absolute and chief concern. We are absolutely passionate about our vision of being Australia’s favourite sport and servicing the community.

Senator WORTLEY —But there is no evidence to support that at this stage.

Mr Sutherland —I cannot give you specific, hard evidence on that basis, but we do know that there is a proliferation of use of our content, much of it which is unfair. In itself, that will only increase exponentially as technology improves and changes and improvements are made to the platform on which the Australian public accesses content.

Ms Beltrame —Perhaps I may also add to that. Equally, by the same token, there is no evidence that the Australian public is being denied any access to information because of the frameworks that we have put in place. We do not receive any feedback. Sure, we have some discussion with media groups and we disagree on some principles but, when we get on with hosting events and the media get on with reporting news, there are no disputes during the season and there are no breaches; we have not revoked accreditation in recent years. As for the conditions that are termed ‘unprecedented’, ‘onerous’, ‘dictating’, ‘trying to censor news reporting’, that is just not the case. We are not receiving information that news media are not being able to do their job by way of the frameworks that we have put in place. Australians are getting access to every piece of information or news reporting that they need.

Senator LUNDY —Can I just clarify the motivation of Cricket Australia here? Do you want to prevent greater widespread coverage of cricket? If not, do you just seek to channel that interest perhaps through your own website and control access, or is it about getting a slice of the revenues? What is really at the core of Cricket Australia’s motivation with the digital rights issue that you are pursuing?

Mr Sutherland —Our underlying issue is about our role in servicing the community with our sport; therefore, to service the community in that way is a costly exercise. Senator Lundy, as you would know through your role in sport in recent times, it is a very expensive exercise and more and more it is sports, particularly major sports, that fund children’s activity not only in the sports landscape but also in the school yard.

Senator LUNDY —So it is the revenue issue.

Mr Sutherland —Yes. We are trying to protect our fair share of the rights—of what is rightfully ours—under the Copyright Act. Again, in my opening comments, I made it very clear that we are not trying to stand in the way of bona fide news agencies reporting on bona fide news but, at the same time, in the digital age, there has been a proliferation of use. Senator Wortley, in answer to your question earlier about examples, I cannot specifically define ‘loss’ or ‘damage’, but I can tell you that in recent times we have had discussions with media organisations and content aggregators about the value of our commercial rights, particularly in the digital space. The comment that we hear over and over again is that, ‘Well, why is that worth anything, because I can just grab that content and provide a highlights package; it is not worth anything to me because I can take it for free.’

Senator LUNDY —Just on an issue of public interest, I certainly appreciate the role that our national sporting organisations and Cricket Australia have in investing in junior sport, but what proportion of your revenue overall is expended on junior sport?

Mr Sutherland —Probably between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of our revenue is spent on that. As an organisation, we have two operating arms: one is the elite teams and trying to ensure that Australian cricket teams are the best teams in the world; and the other is about serving the community. Obviously, an administrative overhead of running our business is the third component of that. They are the three chief components and, roughly speaking, in terms of our expenditure, they probably represent something like a third, a third and a third.

Senator LUNDY —Another subject pretty dear to my heart is the sports coverage of the sport that women play. I note that one of the issues sitting within all of this is the great ongoing disparity between sports coverage of the sport that women play and the sport that men play. The recent women’s world cup in cricket was a great example of how international media interest is growing. But, because you are using public interest as an argument to underpin Cricket Australia’s motivation, can you place on record the current disparity between the earning capacity of our national women cricket players and our national men cricket players? What is Cricket Australia doing to address an apparent absence of coverage, as I would certainly consider this to be a general public interest matter on the basis of men’s and women’s sport?

Mr Sutherland —As you would know and understand, historically, the value proposition and the level of interest has been very much in favour of men. We are pleased to see that in recent times that has changed. Certainly, we have our own Females in Cricket strategy, which you probably are aware of, and that has grown. We like to think that one the legacies of that strategy has been the telecast of the Australian women’s team playing in the recent world cup in Sydney. In terms of salaries and wages, I think Cricket Australia in recent times has come a long way forward. We have players now who are not just scholarship holders with the AIS, receiving some allowances; they are contracted players to Cricket Australia. That is a significant advancement for females who are playing the game of cricket. We hope that, as an outcome of that, we will see improved performances from the Australian women’s team. Also, I am pleased to advise you that another function within that is that Cricket Australia is employing ambassadors from the contracted player list who are working full time in our organisation to promote the virtues of females involved in cricket.

Senator LUNDY —I might get you to provide some more information, particularly about salaries, in relation to both men’s and women’s national teams.

CHAIR —In its submission, AAP states that, in 2005-06, an accreditation condition that Cricket Australia sought and reached was that the frequency of transmission of website updates was 12 times a day and, in the 2008-09 accreditation process, Cricket Australia sought to limit that to six transmissions a day. Would you like to comment on that?

Ms Beltrame —Yes, thank you. That is an incorrect statement that AAP has made in its submission. It is correct that earlier terms and conditions provided for 12 updates per day but, in this year’s terms and conditions or the season just past, that number was revised to six updates per hour. So I think that they might have been confused in suggesting that we have halved that. In fact, that is actually four times—

CHAIR —It is more.

Ms Beltrame —Yes. If a test match goes for eight hours and they can do six updates an hour, that is roughly 48 updates per day; that has increased from 12 to 48.

CHAIR —I appreciate that clarification; it is useful. There being no further questions, I thank representatives of Cricket Australia very much for their submission and for taking their time to appear before the committee today; we appreciate it.

[11.37 am]