Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14939

Sport: Broadcasting

Dear Mrs Wicks

EN0841- Anti-Siphoning Laws

Thank you for your letter of 18 February 2019 regarding petition EN0841, which requests that the House of Representatives reassess the changes made to the anti-siphoning scheme, consider reinstating the sporting events that have been removed from the anti-siphoning list, and investigate the impartiality and effectiveness of Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

I note petitioners' concerns about the details of the broadcast agreement between Cricket Australia, Seven and Fox Sports, announced on 13 April 2018. According to the agreement, Seven is broadcasting all men's Test matches and all women's internationals, as well as 43 men's and 23 women's Big Bash League (BBL) matches each season. Fox Sports will broadcast One Day Internationals (ODI), international Twenty20 (T20) matches, all BBL games, and women's internationals.

The anti-siphoning scheme

The rules relating to broadcasting rights for certain sports events are contained in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. These rules, known as the 'anti-siphoning scheme', ensure that free-to-air broadcasters have first opportunity to acquire the rights to sporting events on the anti-siphoning list. However providing free-to-air broadcasters with this opportunity does not guarantee that an event on the list will be broadcast on free-to-air television.

The list of cricket events on the anti-siphoning list include:

ODI matches involving Australia, played in Australia;

T20 matches involving Australia, played in Australia;

Matches of the ODI World Cup involving Australia and the final, played in Australia or New Zealand;

Matches of the T20 World Cup involving Australia and the final, played in Australia or New Zealand; and

International test matches involving Australia, played in Australia, and Ashes test matches played in the United Kingdom against England.

The anti-siphoning scheme operates as a license condition on subscription television providers (such as Fox Sports), preventing them from acquiring the rights to events on the anti-siphoning list until broadcast rights to the events are bought by a free-to-air broadcaster, or are automatically removed from the list 26 weeks before the event commences.

It is important to note that free-to-air broadcasters are not required to buy listed events, or to broadcast the events they buy. They are also not prevented from subsequently selling some or all of the rights they buy to subscription television providers. These are commercial decisions for the broadcasters concerned, and the Government does not seek to intervene in such matters.

In this instance while the Seven Network has acquired the licence to broadcast domestic ODI and T20 games involving Australia it has chosen not to broadcast these games in favour of providing Fox Sports with exclusive coverage.

I note your comments in relation to impartiality and effectiveness of the ACMA. The ACMA has a broad range of functions under the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005, including to regulate broadcasting services: this includes undertaking general monitoring, compliance and investigative functions in relation to the anti-siphoning scheme. I was advised by the ACMA that the allocation of broadcast rights did not result in a breach of the anti-siphoning rules, and I am satisfied that the ACMA has discharged their statutory duties in relation to this matter.

Broadcasting and Content Reform Package

The Government's Broadcasting and Content Reform Package, which passed the Parliament in late 2017, made a number of changes to the anti-siphoning scheme to enable it to operate more effectively in a digital media environment, while ensuring that events of national significance continue to be freely available.

In relation to petitioners' concerns about a reduction in the number of events included on the anti-siphoning list, the Government's reform updated the list of events to only remove those where the history of rights acquisition of broadcasters, and audience viewing patterns, no longer warranted their inclusion on the list. Inote that the reforms did not include any changes to ODI or T20 cricket where those games are played in Australia.

I will continue to monitor the length and scope of the anti-siphoning list to ensure that it includes events that should be made available to the public on free-to-air television.

Thank you for bringing this petition to my attention. I trust this information will be of assistance.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Fifield(Petition No. EN0841)