Nine in firing line as TV agrees to live odds limits

Nine in firing line as TV agrees to live odds limits
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A leading media analyst has said there’s been widespread criticism of Nine Network behind closed doors for being the catalyst behind the Government’s crackdown on betting during sports matches.

The Government finally moved on the live odds controversy yesterday by demanding broadcasters voluntarily agree to a ban on the advertising of live betting odds during live sport. The Government, which confirmed the ban will be in place within weeks, has rejected criticism that it doesn't go far enough.

Under the proposals, all promotion of live odds by gambling companies and commentators will be prohibited during live broadcasts of sport. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has demanded broadcasters voluntarily agree to the ban or the federal government would look to legislate.  

Steve Allen, principal at Fusion Strategy, told B&T that many within the industry remain critical of Nine’s role in "lighting a fire under the Government and the public" in relation to live odds and sports betting in general on TV.

"Behind closed doors there’s been a good deal of criticism of Nine about the way they structured the deal with Tom Waterhouse,” said Allen. “Many thought it too aggressive and would bring about a backlash, and that’s exactly what has happened."

When contact by B&T Nine stated that Free TV has sent a statement on behalf of FTA television and Nine is “not making any further comment.”

In that statement, Free TV CEO Julie Flynn, said: “These are unprecedented restrictions for broadcasters but we accept the Government has acted in response to community concern. We recognise that these are difficult issues and will submit a revised code within the next two  weeks in line with the Prime Minister's announcement. The industry continues to hold the view that regulation in this area should apply consistently to all advertising and content distribution platforms, not just television."

Allen said the last thing Free TV and the broadcasters will want is Government legislation.

“They want self-regulation so I think they'd be mad not follow the Government line on this," he said.

Allen also rubbished media reports claiming that the betting companies now account for 10 per cent on all TV advertising spend in Australia, with a figure running into the hundreds of millions.

"There’s been some nonsense numbers branded about … betting advertising is worth millions not hundreds of millions. I saw one ill-informed commentator over the weekend saying it’s worth $300 million, that’s just rubbish."

The Australian today reported that Tom Waterhouse has boosted his spending on FTA television ads by 340% in the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year, citing data provided by advertising monitoring firm Ebiquity.

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