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Sports broadcasting changes.

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Labor broadly supports the Government’s long overdue updating of the anti-siphoning list and the adoption of a “use it or lose it” approach. The Government has pruned events from the anti-siphoning list some of which have not received adequate coverage on free to air television. However, Labor questions whether the delisting of international grand prix is fair given the level of coverage that has been provided in the past.

Labor also supports extending the automatic delisting period from six to twelve weeks to allow pay TV providers reasonable time to promote particular events.

Labor is committed to ensuring that Australians can watch their favourite sports on free to air television. Labor welcomes the Government reaffirming its commitment to the anti-siphoning list . However, it is worrying that the changes announced today have not addressed an apparent emerging anomaly in the anti siphoning regime.

Non pay TV licensees related to Foxtel can now purchase sports broadcasting rights prior to free to air operators. This can deny free to air operators the opportunity to obtain exclusive rights.

Labor is pursuing this issue with the industry. The intention of the anti-siphoning legislation was to ensure that free to air broadcasters had first bite in regards to the rights for listed sporting events. This emerging practice could undermine the operation and effectiveness of the anti-siphoning regime.

While Labor broadly welcomes the cleaning up of listed events the Government must do more to ensure the policy objectives of the anti-siphoning list remain in place. Australian sporting fans must continue to enjoy being able to watch premium sporting events on free to air television.

April 7, 2004

For further information contact Lindsay Tanner or Peter van Vliet on (03) 9347 5000 or 0408 188 055.