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Ball Tampering and Anti-Siphon Tampering – Is there a Difference?

By Terence Mills

The broadcasting anti-siphoning regime was intended to preserve access to major sporting events to so called free-to-air and public broadcasters and the anti-siphoning list mandates that broadcasting rights cannot be acquired by a subscription broadcaster unless they have first been offered to or acquired by a free-to-air broadcaster who has either declined or otherwise failed to broadcast.

Well, it seems that the goal posts have been shifted and Cricket Australia have done a deal with Channel Seven and Foxtel, putting One Day Cricket Internationals and the T20 Internationals behind the Foxtel pay wall exclusively for the first time.

The Broadcasting Services Act lists those sporting events that will be reserved for free-to-air broadcasting, this is the section dealing with cricket:

4  Events or events of a kind the televising of which should be available free to the general public

The events specified in the Schedule are events, or events of a kind, the televising of which should, in my opinion, be available free to the general public.

(3)  Each one day cricket match that:

(a)  involves the senior Australian representative team selected by Cricket Australia; and

(b)  is played in Australia.

(4)  Each Twenty20 cricket match that:

(a)  involves the senior Australian representative team selected by Cricket Australia; and

(b)  is played in Australia.

(5)  Each match of the International Cricket Council One Day International World Cup that:

(a)  involves the senior Australian representative team selected by Cricket Australia; and

(b)  is played in Australia or New Zealand.

(6)  The final of the International Cricket Council One Day International World Cup if the final is played in Australia or New Zealand.

(7)  Each match of the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 tournament that:

(a)  involves the senior Australian representative team selected by Cricket Australia; and

(b)  is played in Australia or New Zealand.

(8)  The final of the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 tournament if the final is played in Australia or New Zealand.

So, that’s fairly clear and it would seem that the Foxtel deal would contravene these regulations but, the Minister responsible, Mitch Fifield, has a lot of discretion when it comes to what can be gifted to pay TV broadcasters for exclusive broadcasting.

Section 115 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) empowers the Minister to gazette a list of events, or events of a kind, the televising of which the Minister believes should be available free to the general public but having said that, the Minister can also delist an event and take it off the list. The act gives an example of the sort of discretion the Minister can apply:

Note:

The following are examples of situations in which the Minister might

exercise the power to remove an event from a notice:

Example 1

The national broadcasters and commercial television broadcasting

licensees have had a real opportunity to acquire the right to televise an

event, but none of them has acquired the right within a reasonable

time. The Minister is of the opinion that removing the event from the

notice is likely to have the effect that the event will be televised to a

greater extent than if it remained on the notice.

So, that’s self-explanatory isn’t it? A free to air broadcaster and that includes the ABC and SBS must have had a real opportunity to acquire the right to televise an event but if they have not taken up that right and broadcast the event, the Minister can remove the event or events from the list of events reserved for free to air and that gives pay TV carte blanche. But, does that mean that T20 and ODI have been offered to free to air broadcasters but they have failed to take up that right and thus the Minister has taken them off the list and gifted them to Foxtel? I can’t answer that but I have noticed that Senator Fifield yesterday stated that:

“The negotiation and allocation of broadcasting rights is entirely a matter for sporting bodies and commercial broadcasters. Government has no role in these negotiations.”

Senator Fifield said it was up to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to consider key industry developments to ensure that industry complies with the rules.

“Whilst the anti-siphoning list mandates that broadcasting rights cannot be acquired by a subscription broadcaster unless they have first been acquired by a free-to-air broadcaster, it does not and never has reserved broadcasting rights exclusively for free-to-air broadcasters or required free-to-air broadcasters to acquire rights to these events,” he said.

Make what you will of that statement. In one respect he says that the government has no role in the allocation of broadcasting rights but then he says that ACMA will act as the gatekeeper and in his final statement he throws the whole thing up in the air: he could have added, ‘as long as Rupert’s happy, that’s all that matters.’

This Minister is what my mother would have called ‘a bit of a worry’. Remember, it was he who gave Foxtel $30 million last July for no apparent reason and when asked why he had done so he got all vague. When probing journalists asked the federal communications department for this information they refused to release details because, they said, in true Yes Minister fashion: “documents about the deal do not exist”. It was said at the time that Foxtel were given the thirty million to encourage the development and broadcasting of minority sports. When it was suggested that the broadcasting of minority sports could be much better accommodated by public broadcasters such as the ABC and SBS and thus gain much broader community coverage than by being restricted to a subscription broadcaster that you had to pay for, the response was inaudible.

Watch this space!


8 comments

  1. David Evans

    I cancelled my Cricket Australia Membership yesterday. I seriously doubt that I will ever attend ANY cricket match, even local suburban, again. And, I will never, ever support Australian Cricket again, after @65+ years, and will most definitely never, ever support foxtel in any way.!

  2. Glenn Barry

    I guess this means that we will have to endure Fifield’s smirking lies in interviews in the coming weeks – I really am fed up with Murdoch being able to treat this country like his own personal fiefdom

  3. New England Cocky

    Uncle Rupert is being paid back for supporting the election of the worst NLP misgovernment since Billy MacMahon in 1972.

    The Murdoch family have protested government owned free to air media since the ABC was formed in 1933(?). Now it appears that the RAbbott Dicko Morriscum Turdball NLP misgovernment have sold out the Australian people so that they can get their personal snouts into the public trough of Parliamentary Allowances that pay politicians about as much per day as pensioners are expected olive on for a week!!

  4. Frunobulax

    Has anybody noticed what happens to sport in this country when it signs with pay tv?.. It dies. Was there rush to sign up when Rugby flipped’ or Soccer? No! I’m certainly not going to sign up for Foxtel just to watch a bit of sport commented on by bunch of dickheads! Neither will any of the cricket and rugby tragics I know, in fact, many of the rugby crew dumped their pay subscriptions. So what does this herald for cricket?

  5. Kronomex

    Like I always say, “The LNP, the best paty money can buy.” None of this bastardry could happen without their collusion and corruption.

    I’ve also realised that many months ago I discovered that Mitch Fifield was the twin brother of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin. Wish I could remember where I posted the images. Strangely, I can’t find any image of him wearing his glasses anymore and all the photos I have been able to find show him sans glasses and with a beard. Could it be that it might have got back to him and he became a little ticked off?

  6. David Parks

    But has Fifield says it has been taken off the list, or is he saying it’s up to ACMA to rule whether the deal is compliant. It’s obviously not compliant at the moment. But it would also be a travesty if he took it off the list on the grounds that The national broadcasters and commercial television broadcasting licensees have had a real opportunity to acquire the right to televise an event, but none of them has acquired the right within a reasonable
    time. Clearly the other free to air broadcasters haven’t had a reasonable chance to acquire the rights, because they’ve been effectively been outbid by Foxtel. Seven in this case have been asked to buy the rights in a package with the Tests, but obviously without any intention to exercise or pay for the rights, which will be passed on to Foxtel. That’s a complete sham and contrary to the purpose of anti-siphoning: otherwise pay TV could bid for any event simply by offering the FTA channel a higher price.

  7. Terry2

    The fix is in : Channel Seven will tell ACMA that it has or had the opportunity to broadcast these events free to air but chose not to and onsold the rights to Foxtel.

    Minister Fifield will tell us that everything is good and the law is being upheld . For the ABC and SBS it’s a Catch 22 as they are beholden on the government for funding and this government would never give them funding to make One Day and T20 Internationals available to the Australian public free of charge : remember Dutton told us that we are dead to them.

    Rupert wins again !

  8. etnorb

    Bloody typical Mudrake/liberal crap! Forget about the masses who only watch, & probably can not afford, bloody Foxtel, they will only have (mainly) the Tests to watch from next year or whenever this “deal” (sic) goes ahead! So much for anti-siphoning laws, but of course, Talkbull has to let his best mate Musdrake have whatever he wants! BASTARDS the lot of them!

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