Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS
15/04/2009
Reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media

CHAIR —The committee has received your submission as submission No. 29. Do you wish to make any amendments or alterations to your submission?

Mr Gray —No.

CHAIR —Would you like to make a brief opening statement?

Mr Gray —Yes, I would.

CHAIR —Please do so.

Mr Gray —Thank you for the invitation to appear before the Senate committee today. No-one disputes that sports results, highlights and stories are newsworthy all over the world, particularly in Australia, where sport is such a significant part of our culture. The commercial value attached to certain sporting events does not reduce their significance as news. The extent of sports news worthiness, as measured by its volume, duration and frequency as reported, has not been the subject of legislation historically and the dynamics of the digital age should not result in any changes to this.

The fair dealing exemption under the Copyright Act has been successful and effective for more than 40 years, despite many developments in technology, news programming and the consumers’ relationship with sports. It has rarely been litigated and the boundaries have been determined by engagement and negotiation between media owners and sports rights holders, both before and during the digital age.

ninemsn fully respects and upholds the principles of the fair dealing exemption and has done so since its inception. Our role as a digital media organisation is to deliver up-to-the-minute sports news to our audience. Given the news worthiness of sport and the success of fair dealing historically, even despite many technological developments over 40 years, we do not believe that the digital age should result in changes to the Copyright Act or fair dealing exemption, nor should it result in separate codification or regulation. The regulatory environment should remain platform neutral.

Even if the Senate committee feels that the digital age has tilted the fair dealing balance in favour of the media as against sports rights owners there are many compelling reasons to still not alter the legislation or to codify it. Firstly, any regulatory change or enforceable code would likely be unworkable, given the rapid changes to the environment; inflexible, as an regulational code would not be able to effectively deal with all circumstances and situations relating to the reporting of sports news; and discriminatory, as it would not apply to international sites accessible by Australians. A change would risk compromising the consumers’ right to access diverse news and opinion on a sporting event and to access this news when and where they want to and would reduce their potential to reap the benefits of technological advances. There is no evidence, either generally or in any of the sporting body submissions, that the changing digital landscape is constraining the commercial value of sports media rights.

Next, the industry has a demonstrated and ongoing capacity to self-regulate and we believe this is an important dynamic going forward, particularly as technology evolves further.

Finally, digital media remains a platform where consumers obtain sports news. Fundamentally they are still watching full sporting events or extended highlights through traditional media channels. Sporting bodies remain protected from the erosion of value through both the fair dealing exemption and also consumer behaviour, which is to consume, online and on mobile, sports news rather than full sports events. That concludes my opening statement. I welcome questions.

CHAIR —Thank you. You mentioned in your opening statement that ninemsn honours the fair dealing exemptions of the Copyright Act.

Mr Gray —Yes.

CHAIR —Do you think there are other organisations who are breaching the fair dealing exemptions?

Mr Gray —We have certainly heard from the sporting bodies suggesting that there are examples of that over time. I do not necessarily disagree with the academic view that says there are examples of isolated breaches. I am not an expert on what all of our competitors do. Certainly, the primary media outlets, and obviously I speak mainly for ninemsn, are very conscious of the importance of our relationships with sports rights owners. As a joint venture half owned by PBL Media, which owns the Channel 9 organisation, we are very conscious of Channel 9’s relationships with the sports rights owners and therefore we actively attempt to behave within the constraints of fair dealing. Obviously, there has been litigation testing the extent to which others are pushing those boundaries, and it would be wrong to deny those boundaries are pushed. I do not believe that any major digital media outlet, all of which are linked to print media outlets or television broadcasting networks, fundamentally depart from the fair dealing regime.

CHAIR —Has ninemsn been subject to any litigation?

Mr Gray —No.

CHAIR —None at all?

Mr Gray —No.

CHAIR —Channel 9?

Mr Gray —ninemsn is a joint venture between PBL Media and Microsoft.

CHAIR —I am sorry, I meant PBL.

Mr Gray —PBL Media owns Channel 9. I am here as a representative of ninemsn, rather than Channel 9.

CHAIR —Or PBL?

Mr Gray —That is right. I cannot definitively answer that question on behalf of Channel 9. I can take that away if you want.

CHAIR —I meant to say Microsoft and PBL, who are the joint owners of ninemsn.

Mr Gray —I am not aware of any action that they have been subject to on the basis of conduct by ninemsn.

CHAIR —Thank you. Would you keep a pretty close eye on what your competitors’ websites are doing?

Mr Gray —We do.

CHAIR —Things like Real Footy and stuff like that?

Mr Gray —We do.

CHAIR —Do you think they are pushing the boundaries, so you should too?

Mr Gray —All of the online media publishers are trying to win their share of the sports news market online, if you like, and that involves providing great content and great news to consumers. There is no doubt that the digital media environment is very visual, so consumers come on line. They will come on for very short periods of time. ACNielsen measures all of our competitors and according to their data the average visit to a sports website, both for us and our competitors, over the last 12 months is six minutes, so they are relatively short periods of time in which consumers will get articles, results and data. They will look at images including through picture galleries, and they will look at a video broadcast of highlights. Overwhelmingly, these highlights are typically the same highlights that have appeared on broadcast news outlets, repeated on the internet. I would say our main competitor is the Premier Media Group, that is, Fox Sports. That is what they do and that is what we do. They take the news highlights which have already appeared on the television and repeat those on line.

CHAIR —That is six minutes on your website just on sport?

Mr Gray —Yes, that is right.

CHAIR —That is not people free ranging between weather, news and sport?

Mr Gray —That is right. ACNielsen says that the average visit to a sports site is six minutes.

CHAIR —Do you know what it is on a PDA?

Mr Gray —I do not. I can, again, take that away and return with an answer.

CHAIR —One would presume it would be less than six minutes.

Mr Gray —Yes, I would imagine so.

CHAIR —That is because they are so frustrating to use. Can you explain for the committee how having the Wide World of Sports actually makes money for ninemsn? Can you explain that business model to us?

Mr Gray —Certainly. ninemsn’s commercial model is to generate content, particularly news, entertainment and sports content, which consumers look at and then we sell advertising around that content. Our consumers will come to our site. They will click on whatever story interests them. They will read that content and we will serve an advertisement above or next to that content and provide a return to ourselves on that basis. We also provide communication tools, including Hotmail and Messenger, where our audience has the opportunity to communicate with their friends through our product. As I mentioned before, typically visits to our site are relatively brief and consumers are snacking on line, taking bits of information that they need, and moving on. Our consumer proposition is to plug consumers into whatever news information it is that they want.

CHAIR —You said that people go to your site to look for news, entertainment or sport. Do you know which makes the most money out of those three areas of interest?

Mr Gray —News is considerably bigger than the other two. When I say ‘sports’, I am obviously talking about sports news.

CHAIR —Do you get the most advertising revenue at the moment from news?

Mr Gray —Yes. It is more than those other two. Obviously, we also have our home page that offers sport, entertainment and a variety of other services, including weather and links to our key partner sites. We also run advertising against our Hotmail and Messenger products. Our advertising revenues are actually very broad, so effectively we do not rely overly heavily on any one of those content categories. They are all important to our consumers and, obviously depending on what segment of our audience you are in, different parts are more important to some and less important to others. Overall, they are all important to enabling ninemsn to provide whatever it is any consumer wants to come and look at.

CHAIR —Some submissions have made an observation that sports organisations are trying to turn themselves into media organisations, particularly through their websites. Do you have a comment on that? Do you see that as a threat to your business? Are people going to go to a sports organisation website for sports news ahead of ninemsn?

Mr Gray —One of the sports submissions said earlier today that there is no doubt that we are beginning to compete with each other in that particular territory. The internet offers the opportunity for sports rights holders to disintermediate media companies by speaking directly with their consumers, an opportunity that did not exist, historically, through television and newspapers. In a sense, they are trying to provide many of the same services that media companies are, such as up-to-date scores, news reports on matches, images and video. To the extent that the fair dealing exemption was codified to effectively constrain media outlets from providing consumers with the information that they want to get—the story of the day on a sporting event—that would present a greater opportunity for sports organisations to disintermediate the media by effectively limiting what media companies can provide to their consumers.

I will say at the moment—and it is in our submission—that the overwhelming majority of audience time is spent on media sites, as opposed to sports sites, consuming sports news. I believe that is because the internet is primarily news gathering. From a consumer point of view, with their relatively short visits, it is a medium through which they get news, highlights and stories rather than consume entire fixtures as they would traditionally have done and still do on television.

CHAIR —ninemsn’s position is that you are satisfied with the Copyright Act as it stands at the moment and you do not see any need for government regulation, intervention, guidelines or codes of practice?

Mr Gray —We think the fair dealing exemption works. We think it has worked for 40 years. There is no doubt that the technological environment is changing more and more rapidly. I think that makes it even more difficult to codify. We heard earlier from the COMPS group that even amongst the six or seven of those group members, they could not settle on a standard set of codes for how the fair dealing exemption should be articulated. I agree with them because sport is vary massively in their length and the type of highlights that they offer up. That is just today. Who knows what will happen next. It is the domain of the existing legislation as it stands, plus regulation and negotiation, which as I mentioned before does happen between media companies, our parents—who are often sports rights holders—and sporting bodies. Those two avenues, which have worked historically, remain the best.

CHAIR —Do you have a view about how long content should be allowed to be up on a website such as yours? I am talking about news.

Mr Gray —I understand that. The argument that says once something is published as news it remains news 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, a week, a month, a year after the event is compelling. I also believe that, to some extent, it is a moot point because the value of sports rights diminishes over time. Obviously, the closer you are to the event itself the more people are watching it. We certainly find that our traffic spikes just after events. I am not sure exactly what would be gained by clawing back those rights from media organisations, given the value diminishes. Fundamentally, I think news remains news once it is out there and it is very difficult to define over what period of time it stops being news. It varies enormously depending on the nature of the event and the circumstances in which it has occurred.

CHAIR —Is the video content that you have on your website licensed?

Mr Gray —No. The overwhelming majority of our sports video content is Channel 9 sports reports that we show online. We have the right to do that under the fair dealing exemption and that is accepted by all sides. The question as to how much is appropriate or inappropriate is obviously one of the areas that has come up in other submissions, but that is the basis on which we publish.

CHAIR —What if you wanted to have Warren Treadrea’s six goals that he kicked on the weekend on your website, which was on Channel 7 or Channel 10? How would you get hold of that, or would you just not run that?

Mr Gray —Without going into the specifics, once a piece of sport has been exhibited on any broadcast network, Channel 9, and therefore us, can access that. The process is that it becomes a piece of Channel 9 news and then it becomes video footage that we replay on ninemsn. Any attempts to say that something that is news on a broadcast news network is not news because it exceeds a certain length of time on digital media is extremely problematic.

CHAIR —Thank you. Senator Birmingham.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Thank you for your time. You guys must be the good guys because in the COMPS additional material that they tabled today I note that ninemsn does not score a mention under any of the specific examples, so you are doing something right in their eyes.

I would like to deal with some of the complaints they raise and try to address them. In looking at your website it seems to me, in terms of match day coverage dealing specifically with AFL for the time being, that you have recent match day coverage but if I go back over your older archives into last year and last season, whilst you still have AFL coverage of news stories, I do not see any match day coverage there. Do you have an internal policy of taking down match day coverage after a period of time?

Mr Gray —We do take it down after a period of time. As I said before, I feel that information is of the most value immediately after the game. The further and further away the coverage is from the game the stronger argument the sport association might have that it is no longer news. On the other hand, fundamentally I support the principle that once it is news it is news and could stay up there. But we err on the side of caution there.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Do you do that of your own accord out of an abundance of caution rather than out of any agreement that you have struck with other rights holders, with the sports bodies or anybody else?

Mr Gray —We do not have a specific agreement with any sports bodies to do that. However, we are mindful that we do have good relationships. When I say ‘we’, I mean both ninemsn and Channel 9 have excellent relationships with the sporting bodies. Channel 9 are the current rights holders to the cricket and the NRL and have historically held the rights to the AFL. Mindful of those relationships, we have had a practice of pulling match day highlights down after a period of time following the game.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Can you tell us the period of time?

Mr Gray —There is not a specific number.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Do you have still libraries or anything of that sort on the ninemsn site?

Mr Gray —For AFL we do not. You have touched on an issue that has come up a few times today with respect to the AFL’s limitations on its capacity to get photographs at those grounds and then distribute them as news. We do have galleries for cricket and the NRL. We would love to have AFL galleries. We fundamentally believe that picture galleries are an increasingly important part of all of our news. If you look back at some of the biggest stories that have occurred over the last say six months, such as the Obama inauguration and the Victorian bushfires, there were very large photo galleries generated on our site which really captured our audience’s attention. Audiences love being told stories with pictures. Sport is no different from any other news medium with respect to that. We would love to have more of those. We are constrained by our ability to access AFL images and therefore do not have them for AFL.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —For the other sports organisations, cricket, soccer and so on, do you access them through AAP or Reuters?

Mr Gray —That is right. We obviously have the benefit of all the Channel 9 news footage, but for still images, print and written stories, we have a number of journalists ourselves, but nothing like the army that the AAP or News or Fairfax have, so obviously we cannot be at every fixture taking our own pictures and writing our own stories. Therefore, we rely on the wire feeds to generate that content for us.

Senator WORTLEY —How many journalists do you have working for you? Have your photo journalists or journalists ever been denied access to sporting organisations with regard to accreditation?

Mr Gray —We have no more than a dozen journalists, so simply do not have the numbers to send them out to individual sporting events.

Senator WORTLEY —Thank you.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —That plays into a good question in your instance and with Real Footy where they have an association with Fairfax and so on. As a provider of news they are also at least, to some extent, a generator of news, either by employing some journalists directly or through their parent companies as well. Do you think it becomes a different ball game, so to speak, when I decide to set up a sports news website of my own and simply just package other people’s content and news on there and do not generate any news of my own?

Mr Gray —That is a good question. The wonder of the internet is that there are basically no barriers to entry. Anybody can start their own website. It is very easy technologically to grab other people’s content and sell it primarily on an advertising basis as your own. The reality is that if you look at the list of sites with major sporting audiences they are exactly the names that you would expect to see. They are ninemsn, Yahoo!7, Fairfax News, Telstra Sensis, Fox Sports and, along with that, probably ESPN and then the major sporting companies. There are always opportunities for others around the fringes to start their own aggregation and do it in a way which is in breach of the fair dealing exemption. They are typically not players that have made a real dent on the competitive landscape. There is one exception, YouTube, which obviously is not an Australian company and not a traditional media outlet, per se, but certainly is obviously the subject of some discussion with respect to the transmission of sporting content.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Do you allow people to embed your news stories or video footage in their websites?

Mr Gray —No.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Is that for your own commercial reasons? I assume you would rather people come to your website to see your footage rather than somebody else setting up the highlights of ninemsn site?

Mr Gray —Yes. There are limited examples where we on-sell aspects of our content, where we have the rights, to other organisations, but we typically do not allow our video to be embedded elsewhere.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Thank you.

CHAIR —Senator Lundy.

Senator LUNDY —Has ninemsn been threatened with litigation because of the way you manage your sports content?

Mr Gray —No.

Senator LUNDY —Ever?

Mr Gray —Not that I am aware of. I have been there 2½ years so I cannot speak definitively about the 10 years. I can certainly go away and test that through our files. We have had and do have discussions with sports bodies when they feel as though we have pushed the line. As I mentioned before, I feel that is the best way for this to be managed on an ongoing basis.

Senator LUNDY —Can you just clarify for me, is the content that you use uploaded as licensed copyrighted content or is it content that is available for the purposes of news reporting?

Mr Gray —The latter.

Senator LUNDY —The fact that you are not aware of any litigation, but you have had discussions with sport, as you said before, means that you fit within what the parameters are of the current theme.

Mr Gray —Yes. We are very mindful of fair dealing. We educate our journalists and producers on it. We talk with Channel 9 about it. We talk, primarily through them, with sporting bodies about it and take it very seriously.

Senator LUNDY —With the Wide World of Sports online presence, what is the business model behind that? How do you make money for ninemsn?

Mr Gray —We make money by consumers coming to our site. We have eight million unique Australians who come to our site every month. That is a big audience. They consume our content and in so doing generate a lot of page views and therefore ad impressions which we have sold in advance to advertisers so that when a person clicks on a link and views a story an ad is served next to that story and we can invoice an advertiser for running that ad.

Senator LUNDY —Have any sports approached you formally complaining about that model that you have used, that is the repackaging of content that was available as news in essentially a consolidated news experience around sport? Have you ever had a formal complaint from them?

Mr Gray —Not that I am aware of. Again, I can check that point for you. We have heard the sports rights owners say that one of their concerns is that sponsorship of sporting news by a competing sponsor to sponsorship of a sport is an issue for them. I can see that argument. I think that has always been the case. There is no doubt that brewers and car companies always like to run the ad just before the sports report on Channel 9. As the senator mentioned before, Holden might like to sponsor theAdvertiser sport lift-out. That issue exists and it always has. It is not altered by the changing landscape.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Just for clarity on that one point, you do not embed advertising in your images or alter the images in any way that would allow for advertising?

Mr Gray —No.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Advertising sits along side of, on top of, below or whatever?

Mr Gray —That is right. The two models for advertising around a video clip are either for a banner ad to run elsewhere on the page at the same time or for a moving picture, if you like, a pre-roll advertisement to run before the clip or, less likely, for an ad to run after the clip.

Senator LUNDY —Do you have a standard of length of digital video clip that you are able to use or can get access to?

Mr Gray —We can access and run clips of any length. The reality is that our consumers tell us what they want and overwhelmingly online, coming to ninemsn, consumers are coming there to get the news and to view short clips. As a practical matter, we keep things to a smallish number of minutes because that is what the primary consumer need is. We do not have a code that says that we cannot run a video below X minutes.

Senator LUNDY —That is good to know for the purposes of some of the concerns that have been expressed through the course of this inquiry. If that is why you keep your clips short, will increased bandwidth—faster download speeds—change the way you present information or do you think your consumers will want longer clips or they will still want short clips, but they will download faster?

Mr Gray —The better broadband gets the more people will watch what have historically been television broadcasts online.

Senator LUNDY —No, that is not my question. It is about your product online and the way your viewers currently consume that sports content. I just want to drill down into this issue of whether or not you think people are only looking at, and like your clips short, because of the painful download wait or that they are really on limited time and just want to view a short clip regardless of the download time?

Mr Gray —I think both of those are factors. Consumers who are coming to get news want to get it relatively quickly. As I said before, it is a number of minutes. There is no doubt that as the consumer experience gets better there is the potential to show longer clips. There is no doubt. I think it is easy to foresee a situation where consumers will want longer clips and want to watch more clips because the transmission quality is improving.

Senator LUNDY —Can you give the committee some advice on—I do not know what you call it these days—watermarking on digital images and constraints that you could apply to images shown on your computer screen but prevent them from being printed out.

Mr Gray —Good question. It is probably beyond my technical expertise.

Senator LUNDY —That is just a thought. I was thinking of the concerns expressed by sports about the value of selling photos, posters or whatever. If they were more confident that online images could not be easily printed out and reproduced in a high quality then that might alleviate some of their concerns.

Mr Gray —My understanding of that concern is that the wire services have the capacity to on-sell high quality images. My view on that, from ninemsn’s perspective, is we are in the business of reporting news. The wire services are in the business of providing us with images that we can provide to our audience. To constrain them from doing that—

Senator LUNDY —No, that was not the purpose of my question. It was really consumers accessing photos from anywhere and printing them out. It was less about that relationship between you and other providers of photo journalists’ content.

Mr Gray —There is no doubt that there is an increasing capacity to replicate content whilst obscuring the original owner of that. There is effectively an arms race between people trying to watermark content to brand it as their own and people trying to get rid of those so they can rebrand it. As a company that primarily transmits Channel 9 content with the Channel 9 logo on it, which we do not touch, it is not an issue that we spend a lot of time thinking about.

Senator LUNDY —That is what I was trying to get to, whether you had experience in that realm. Thank you.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —I would like to take you back to the timing of broadcast issues. You run live scores on your website.

Mr Gray —Yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —There is a continual update there over the weekend, if there are multiple games happening, of those scores. How quickly would you upload any content from those matches?

Mr Gray —We are typically reproducing Channel 9 sports news, so it would be basically as soon as possible after that news is run. If we think a news report on the 6 o’clock news on the Sunday night is of interest then we will try to upload it as soon as possible that night or the next morning. Often times the Today program has sports highlights which are shown on their show at six in the morning and is up on our website within a couple of hours afterwards. It is not immediate, but it is as soon as we can do it after the transmission on television.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —That is the practicality of what you do at present and it is driven, quite possibly, by almost the commercial imperative of Channel 9, your half-parent, in not wanting those stories to go online until they have been broadcast free to air.

Mr Gray —The issue is not Channel 9 stopping us from doing it, the issue is that we are using a Channel 9 clip, including the introduction and narration. We try to transmit it as soon as we can afterwards. We do live stream the Channel 9 news at 6 o’clock on week nights, which includes live streaming their sports news. We do it as soon as we can along with, or after, the television broadcast. We do not do it before.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —If Simon Goodwin breaks his leg in the first quarter of a game and the game is being played at Subiaco and it runs over the course of the Channel 9 news, can Channel 9 firstly run that news story with footage from the first quarter of the game and could you therefore theoretically have it online while the game is still being broadcast?

Mr Gray —I cannot answer on Channel 9’s behalf. My view is that once Simon Goodwin breaks his leg, that is news. The footage of Simon Goodwin breaking his leg is news footage and one of the wonderful things about online is that you do not have to wait for 6.15 to see the news, and why should consumers not benefit from having the opportunity of seeing it earlier?

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Should you have to wait until the game is over?

Mr Gray —I think it is news at quarter time. I do not think that it is news at full time, it is news as it happens. The immediacy is one of the key benefits of the internet. We live stream a lot of things. We do not live stream sporting events because of the fair dealing exemption. I do not see why a news clip is not news during a game and therefore should not be used as such.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Thankfully Goodwin has not broken his leg and we hope that never happens. Instead, in the final minute of the first quarter he could kick three goals. Is that news?

Mr Gray —Yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Again, you would be happy to see that up before you got to full time?

Mr Gray —Yes. History shows us that sports broadcast news has shown clips of games that have occurred whilst the game is ongoing, particularly in cricket where the games goes for five days, but even in football where it only goes for a couple of hours. I cannot comment in detail on individual broadcaster’s decisions and capacity to do that today when considered against their relationship with the sports rights holders, but I feel that any individual clip that is newsworthy, whether it is breaking a leg or kicking three goals, is news from that moment and therefore should come under the fair dealing exemption.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —It then becomes a very interesting point of competition. If you were to take that approach to the nth degree, and I acknowledge you do not at present, but if commercial realities allowed you to do so and to be filing stories of news throughout the weekend, throughout the games as they were taking place, as news within those games happened, you quickly get to a scenario where with appropriate bandwidth speed or whatever, it becomes almost more appealing to sit in front of the laptop when there are three games happening and get your almost instant news with your live scores that becomes a direct competition to the live broadcaster or indeed the mobile broadcaster.

Mr Gray —You could argue that by taking that to the nth degree. As a sports fan I think nothing replaces watching a game. The best data, the best photographs and the best clips, even in aggregation, are not a substitute for watching the entirety of the match or the entirety of the quarter of the match. That is something that sports rights holders will always have protected under the fair dealing exemption.

I am not privy to the details, but in my view, that represents the vast majority of the value of the rights that they sell to broadcasters. Even with the immediacy of internet coverage and the potential fragmentation of it, I am not persuaded that is a substitute for a consumer watching a sporting event. It certainly would not be for me. I am therefore not persuaded that will reduce the value of those sports rights over time. Even if it did, that does not effectively overtake the right of consumers to get news.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Effectively at present, because of the way you do business, you are basically governed by the 3 x 3 x 3 gentlemen’s agreement, as it is put, because that is the way Channel 9 operates, so therefore they are the stories that you get. In a sense, that means that you are governed by a platform-specific agreement that exists for a different platform. Would guidelines that were not platform specific but applied evenly to everybody, not necessarily clamp downs in the legislation but with clear-cut guidelines such as some of those that have been adopted for academic research or otherwise, would they have a potential to be a positive or would you still rather see the current playing field stay as it is?

Mr Gray —Our preference is for the current playing field to remain. I think those guidelines would be extremely difficult to draft. Given the number of sports, the number of platforms, the evolution of technology over time, and also the number of different sporting circumstances that there are, say between a March pre-season game and the grand final, it is very difficult to put your arms around all of the scenarios and codify it. You would get as good an outcome with good legislation and a responsible engagement between sports rights holders and the media, and the threat of litigation if people are in breach of the legislation. You could argue for a code. I think there are so many difficulties with it. It will never apply to everyone because international sites will not be governed by it. It cannot govern all the circumstances. It would be very difficult to both write and enforce and would risk reducing consumers’ capacity to benefit from technological advances in getting their sports news.

CHAIR —Thank you very much for the submission to this inquiry and for taking the time to appear before us today. We appreciate it.

Is it the wish of the committee that the documents tabled today be accepted by the committee? There being no objection, it is so ordered. That does conclude today’s proceedings. I thank all the witnesses for their informative presentations. Thank you also to Hansard, broadcasting and to the secretariat for their assistance. I declare the hearing closed.

Committee adjourned at 3.50 pm