Television's sports squabble reignites

Television's sports squabble reignites
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The pay TV industry is launching a fresh assault on the anti-siphoning list for sport and the free-to-air industry is less than impressed, accusing Pay TV of “stealth” and trickery.

The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) is taking a new proposed to the federal government it says is the “most reasonable” seen in many years.

But Free TV chairman Harold Mitchell pointed to the UK experience and said a dual-rights scheme would only see major sports migrate to Pay TV “depriving millions of viewers from watching the game live and free”.

 “Pay TV’s call last year for the antisiphoning list to be dismantled fell on deaf ears. So now they are having another go, but this time they are trying to do it by stealth,” Mitchell said.

In November last year the Pay and free-to-air industries bickered over the anti-siphoning list with Foxtel's chief executive accusing the FTA industry of a "medical addiction" to media regulation. 

 “Pay TV is trying to trick the public and policy makers with a call for the current system to be replaced with a ‘dual rights’ scheme where free-to-air and pay TV rights for listed sports are sold separately.

“It’s nonsense to suggest that a dual rights scheme would deliver the same amount and quality of sport on free-to-air television. This is a ploy to force Australians to pay to watch their favourite sport on television.”

Mitchell said that now digital television is mainstream the “only change that the Parliament should consider is to enable free-to-air broadcasters to show listed sports on all their channels”.

Andrew Maiden, chief executive of ASTRA, told Fairfax the fresh proposal could enable “competing broadcasts” if a sports body sold its rights to both industries in parallel.  For more see the Fairfax report here.

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