Having just lost the English Premier League rights in Australia to rival Optus, it’s being reported that Foxtel has drawn up a list of sports that it believes should not be on the federal government’s anti-siphoning list.
The anti-siphoning laws mean that sports that are of “national cultural or significance” must be first offered to the free-to-air networks.
Fairfax Media is reporting that the pay TV subscriber has already drawn up a hit-list which it will present to the federal communications minister Mitch Fiflield in coming days. The move follows speculation that the Turnbull government is reviewing and about to announce significant amendments to Australia’s media ownership laws.
It’s understood that Foxtel is happy that sports such as the NRL, AFL and major one-offs such as the Bathurst V8 race and the Melbourne Cup remain on free-to-air. However, it will argue that a number of overseas events – tennis and football, as an example – should be exempt and, in fact, that the laws themselves discriminate against pay TV operators
It is understood that Fifield is receptive to Foxtel’s cause and even Channel Nine has agreed to some sports being removed from the list.
Meanwhile, The Australian is reporting that the free-to-air stations will likely be successful in having their TV license fees axed altogether. Seven, Nine and Ten currently pay 4.5 per cent of their gross revenues in license fees, however those revenues have been significantly eroded in recent times with the introduction of SVODs into the Australian media landscape and declining ad spends.
It is understood that the quota for local content is not expected to be altered in any new deal. Regardless, any changes to current media laws will need to be put to both houses of Parliament and it is understood that neither Labor nor the Greens support any changes to existing laws.