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Shadow ministers slam priorities in Fox Sports “handout”

By William Olson  

Opposition communications ministers have called out the Morrison government’s continued hypocrisy in its funding of its broadcast interests – granting $10 million of public to Fox Sports, weeks after revelations of continued cutting millions of dollars in funding to the ABC.

While $41 million of funding was recently found to be cut to the ABC in late June by the Morrison government in a move that may also result in as many as 250 jobs shed by the national broadcaster, the funnelling of money to Fox Sports is also not the first of its kind.

In 2017, amid the absence of a paper trail that would have otherwise outlined the motives of such a move, the Turnbull government under the guardianship of then-communications minister Mitch Fifield extended a $30 million grant to Fox Sports – presumably to increase airtime for events and programming for women’s, niche, and under-represented sports on the Foxtel block of channels over a four-year interval, as outlined in the 2017 federal budget.

Fifield, at the time, said the grant was merely part of a “broader media reform package”.

However, South Australian senator Sarah Hanson-Young – reasonably aghast at the ongoing cost of cuts to the ABC totalling $783 million since 2013 – assails the brazen appearance of the grant to Fox Sports.

“Another day, another public hand-out to the Morrison Government’s [Rupert] Murdoch mates,” said Hanson-Young, the Greens’ holder of the communications portfolio.

“Giving tens of millions to Fox Sports while cutting funding to the ABC really is the height of arrogance,” she added.

 

Paul Fletcher, the Morrison government’s minister for communications, has defended the extending of the grant, citing that Foxtel’s block of Fox Sports channels – between the presence of women’s professional sporting leagues such as the WNBL, WBBL, Super Netball, AFLW, NRLW, and the W-League, all of which currently operating under existing broadcasting deals – has provided a platform for a doubling of women’s sport coverage in programming hours since 2016.

“With six dedicated sports channels and a wide range of sports news, Fox Sports has a strong commitment to broadcasting sports and events that may not otherwise receive television coverage,” Fletcher said on Wednesday.

Nonetheless, Hanson-Young feels that the government grant money can be better spent on enhancing the public broadcaster, and went as far as suggesting that women’s sporting leagues should be on national free-to-air broadcasters such as the ABC and SBS, and not on any of the Fox Sports channels.

“This funding program for Murdoch’s Fox Sports says everything about the priorities of the Morrison Government. The Morrison Government is handing out millions of dollars of taxpayer money to a private, corporate broadcaster while slashing funding at the public broadcaster,” Hanson-Young exclaimed.

“Any support for the broadcast of women’s sport should be going to the public broadcasters which fans can watch for no further cost.

“The ABC has suffered from repeated budget cuts under the Coalition Government, some $783 million since 2014, and is now cutting jobs and news services to stay afloat. If there is money to go around for broadcasting, it should go to the ABC and SBS.

“The PM needs to reverse the funding cuts to the ABC. He can easily find the first $10 million by taking it back from Murdoch and putting it where it will be the most benefit to broadcasting and promoting women’s sport and where fans can actually watch it without forking out more money,” Hanson-Young said.

Meanwhile, Labor front-bencher Michelle Rowland, the ALP’s shadow minister for communications, while assailing the government in restricting viewership of women’s sport to pay-TV platforms, hit a direct link between the aggregate total of $40 million to Fox Sports for what is now a six-year interval and the “sport rorts” scandal on the government’s watch stemming from last year’s federal election.

“The Morrison Government left women and girls ‘changing in cars or out the back of the sheds’. Now, they’re keeping taxpayer-funded women’s sports coverage behind a pay wall,” Rowland said.

“Australia’s sportswomen deserve better. Young girls can’t be what they can’t see.

“At a time when Australia is in recession, many households are facing unemployment and money is tight, $10 million would go a long way to supporting sports coverage to which all Australians can see for free,” added Rowland.

But like Hanson-Young, Rowland maintained that the Morrison government – a body that claims to be empowering women’s sport leagues and participation on Fox Sports – has its end-game priorities misplaced.

“Despite spending more than $250 million pre-election on community sports infrastructure, the Morrison Government failed to fund hundreds of worthy women’s sports projects because it prioritised marginal seats over merit.

“Today’s announcement just proves this government will always put political gain before real support for women and girls in sport,” Rowland said.

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21 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    We do know that there is a great alliance, conspiracy, fellowship, coalition, of conservative interest, and a focal point is the Murdoch Maggot Media Machine for co-ordinating policy for corporate profiteering at all costs to the rest of us. Wages, conditions, security are down, attacked, controlled. Decent jobs, careers, professional and trained areas of work are facing permanent controlled, take-it-or-leave-it attitudes from the conservative corporate biggies, who never seem to lose out on salary, incentives, bonuses, fringe benefits, goodies. Grabbing the pussy and clutching the balls of Life, gives media control over the governments, money flows, decisions, all to our detriment. Meanwhile, the environment suffers, the future is threatened and these extremely putrid anuses of the new nobility, self created, have us where they want us, nearly, in an undemocratic consumer, braindead social ratwheel called “life”.

  2. Baby Jewels

    So an American billionaire gets paid our money for showing Australian women’s sport to a handful of subscribers on his dying Foxtel. A job the ABC should be doing but instead the ABC has its funding cut, because Murdoch’s Foxtel is SO much better… Well, if the LNP want to pay Murdoch for propaganda services to the LNP, it should come out of Liberal Party coffers. CORRUPTION – Nobody does it better than the LNP.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Made even more deplorable with the fact that Murdoch’s News Corp paid zero tax.

  4. Jack Cade

    Baby Jewels

    You don’t understand. OUR coffers are THEIR coffers. To be plundered as and when.
    This week, a clutch of SA Liberal MPs have had to repay a shitload of money that they mistakenly thought they were entitled to lift from the public purse. The most prominent – Stephan Knoll, who insists that the K is pronounced in his surname – making it alliterate with ‘’kin hell‘, said the rules were unclear so he paid his mothers rent out of our pockets.
    That’s the sort of pocket-billiards-playing plonkers we elect to our parliaments. Well, 50+ percent of us…

  5. Henry Rodrigues

    Once again and not for the last time either, that crinkled old bastard gets to dip his filthy claws into the australian taxpayers pocket. As for the facilitator, Scummo the arselicker, nothing is too low for him. He can withstand all the shit thrown at him because the crinkled old bastard has his back. This is a one media country, and soon it’ll be the only country with that description. Sons of bitches, every single one of them.

  6. Garry Detez

    Why cant the critics of this Murdoch receipt of $10mill our money, money that we worked hard for, call it out as the corruption it clearly is

  7. Jack Cade

    Garry Detez

    We can, and we do!
    But who will print it? Murdoch?
    By the way, the photograph of the wrinkled Yankee cuckold at the head of this item indicates that he has not been advised to avoid ‘straining at stool.’

  8. Elaine Richardson

    They have NO shame, this government. They don’t even try to hide their hypocrisy. Our Auntie, is now THEIR Auntie and Uncle Rupert hasn’t had to part with a dime (his home currency). . The blatant squandering of the Australian taxpayers’ money on their cronies is disgraceful. If the Australian voters put this cabal of thieves back in at the next election they should be certified. Masochists voting in sadists.

  9. Gangey1959

    This is just bolloxed.
    Uncle voldemurdoch pays NO tax, gets to own and therefore pull the strings of half plus one of our puppet parliamentarians while he sits back and has his private parts caressed by jerry hall (sorry for the mental imagery folks), and has Australia’s Aunty ABC decimated while having his own palm greased yet again, this time to the tune of 10 mil.
    WTF? Where do these half wits get off ?
    @HR. The land of the lying dragon has its own newspaper. Now so does Australia.
    There is one major benefit, surely.
    For a mere $10,000.000.00, ALL Australians have access to foxtel’s paywalled sports and other programs, so now EVERYONE can watch Melbourne Storm every time they play.
    ” And there was much rejoicing…” Come on rupy, where is my pasword and login code. They play tomorrow, and I’m in Melbourne.

    @JC / BJ. The aforementioned SA senator’s surname is spelled (and pronounced) k-noBB. What a fucking dickhead. There should be an aptitude pre-test before being able to stand for election. Stand each applicant in front of a mirror and see who talks to the person opposite as a starter pass/fail.

  10. Matters Not

    Re:

    American billionaire gets paid our money … receipt of $10mill our money,

    So there’s people who think it’s our money? As I understand it, the $30 million to be legally paid to a foreign company comes from the government which acquired same through legal means. If it were our money then surely we would have control over it? If it were our money, then surely we would be deciding the how, when and why of its allocation? Clearly we don’t! Or did I miss the communication that asked for permission?

    And yet people persist in claiming that it’s still our money. Are we now going to blame Murdoch for this state of delusion? Or are we simply going to look into the mirror to see for ourselves who deludes whom?

  11. Brad Black

    Yet another example of the government using our money to back the wrong horse. If the LNP ‘government’ were a corporation, shareholders would’ve sacked the board for incompetence and ‘creative accounting’.
    And if voters were the shareholders nothing would change!

  12. MrFlibble4747

    Did Fraudenberg beat Trumps “lies per second” record during the first 90 seconds of his Financial update statement this morning?

    Needs Fact Checking mutchly!

  13. terence mills

    To survive in Australia and beat down free to air television, Foxtel need sport locked behind their paywall. It’s the only thing that will save them and give them a guaranteed market of people prepared to pay to watch sport on television (with ads).

    If you look at the Nielsen audience ratings for Foxtel – including Sky, they are woeful. For instance, Sky-after-Dark paid a lot of money to bring Alan Jones over from radio to pay TV. His initial ratings started with an audience of 109,000, but this has progressively dropped to 71,000 (15 July) and is unlikely to grow its audience into the future – these abysmal ratings are much the same for Bolt, Credlin, Murray etc. and for a Pay TV network they are unsustainable.

    The only way Murdoch’s pay TV franchise can work in Australia is if you lock sporting fixtures behind your paywall : thus you force sports fans to pay and you endeavour to lock out free to air TV, in particular the national broadcaster.

    Murdoch has had some success already with one-day and T20 cricket internationals being shown exclusively on Fox Sports, and the Big Bash games won’t be available to watch on Channel 7 any more.

    With a compliant coalition government who are prepared to give Murdoch handouts we can expect to see more of this : they are keen to have the government water down anti-syphoning regulations and move in on AFL and NRL

    Already The AFL has a deal with free to air Seven and Foxtel and the National Rugby League (NRL) last month marked the resumption of its 2020 season by agreeing fresh rights deals with Foxtel and Nine.

    For their strategy to work, the majority Murdoch owned payTV broadcaster Foxtel need to have exclusivity over popular sporting events and slowly but surely they are getting there.

    Clearly, the handouts given to Foxsports to cover women’s and other minority sports should have gone to the ABC (or SBS) then at least they would be free to air but that’s not the way it’s going.

    So, if you’re a sports fan get ready to be forced to buy Mr Murdoch’s payTV coverage !

  14. DrakeN

    Matters Not,
    You appear to be confused as to who owns what.
    The government which issues our currency via its wholly owned Reserve Bank is actually our government.
    When you vote them in or out is the only time that they need to ask for your permission to expend any of that money.
    The voting public concedes all right to fiscal decisions once a ballot is concluded.

  15. Matters Not

    DrakeN – actually I agree with the substance of the case you make. It’s our government – at least technically speaking. And when we (as citizens and NOT as taxpayers) vote them in that’s virtually the only time a form of permission is sought (and legally obtained) to do virtually what they want – including all right to (directly) make fiscal decisions.

    Taxpayers (including large taxpayers like corporations – try Banks) pay money to government(s) because of legal obligation(s). It’s not donated. It’s not a choice. It must be paid. And once paid it no longer belongs to taxpayers. It’s no longer taxpayers’ money. The tense has changed. Rather it’s (effectively) now government money. Same when one buys a loaf of bread – the money paid in exchange for the bread now belongs to the baker. And so it is with paying tax. What was once owned by a taxpayer now belongs to the recipient (the government.) Try getting it back, if you’re in any doubt and you’ll soon see whose money it legally is.

    And while citizens (whether they be net taxpayers or not) elect governments, effectively governments can do as they please (provided it’s legal). They only become accountable when another election is held.

    Yes we have a ‘democracy’ but as to whether it’s in name or in effect remains debatable. Decisions(s) that are made every three or fours years is a ‘democracy’? We can do much better.

  16. pierre wilkinson

    and never forget Abbott’s largesse to his master

    News Corp’s $882m blew the budget – Financial Review
    http://www.afr.com › Companies › Media And Marketing

  17. Andrew J. Smith

    It is not just the government or state gifting funding to a private media organisation but how the latter terrifies most MPs and has integrated the government or state into its domain…. while making an actual profit or operating surplus seems irrelevant nowadays for NewsCorp.

    By coincidence spoke to a European friend who quit her job in London due to the then new Johnson government. Explained how the UK, US and Australian governments are beholden to commercial media led by Murdoch and radical right libertarian ideology and policies thanks to Koch network(s)’ think tanks….. we have a kleptocracy involving legacy industries and demographics….. similar to Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Italy etc. all the great first world liberal democratic nations…..

  18. Zathras

    Murdoch managed that tax refund/credit (mentioned above) by loaning money between his companies in one currency and repaying it in another thereby generating a contrived paper loss – a scam.

    Now the taxpayer hands over cash for allegedly promotional purposes but then has to pay to see the result.

    When Virgin recently asked for assistance but was rejected Freydenberg said the owners “had deep pockets”. Not as deep as Ruperts.

    What I would like to know is whether this money is for services already rendered to the Liberal Party or is it an advance payment for services yet to come?

  19. perthjohny

    This is nothing but a conflict of interest!!
    No wonder why Morrison doesn’t want to have a federal ICAC!!
    But, also it’s taxpayer money, but, the tax payer has to pay foxtell to see these games!!
    The tax payer can’t win in any case!!

  20. leefe

    Given the massive loss at which Newscorpse runs in Australia, I suppose the misgovernment feels it has to prop up poor ol’ Rupe’s failing empire. Quid pro quo.

  21. Pete

    Brad B, “If the LNP ‘government’ were a corporation”. Here’s some news, the govt of the day is a Corporation. The ‘Commonwealth of Australia’ is registered as a private company with the SEC in the United States, see – https://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/browse-edgar?action=getcompany&CIK=0000805157&owner=include&count=40); Funny thing is I checked and can find no evidence of being a shareholder, can you? Being a Corporation goes some way to explain why they don’t care so much about any debt they rack up in our name as much as they do care about their remuneration packages. Australia is being ruled and ruined by snake-like plotters enabled by Murdoch. Wakey wakey.

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