26 Nov 2010

Two tiers of television sports under anti-siphoning reforms released by Federal Government

by Kate Jordan, Toby Ryston-Pratt, Mary Still, John Fairbairn

The Federal Government has released details of its new anti-siphoning policy for sports events on television, which will now comprise two tiers of sporting events, with different rules applying to them.

The reforms are the culmination of a review process that started in August 2009 with the release of a discussion paper, Sport on television: A review of the anti-siphoning scheme in the contemporary digital environment.

Tier A events are nationally iconic events such as the Melbourne Cup, Bathurst 1000 and finals of major Australian tournaments like the NRL and AFL Premiership. Free-to-air broadcasters must broadcast these events live and in-full, with limited exceptions.

Tier B events include the regular games of the AFL and NRL premierships seasons, and non-finals games of the Australian Open tennis. Free-to-air broadcasters will be allowed to broadcast these events on digital multi-channels.

The Government is also introducing new "must-offer" obligations – once a broadcaster has acquired the right to anti-siphoning listed events, it must either televise it or offer it to another free-to-air broadcaster.

The list of events has also been updated, with some new events added and others removed.  The Government will however not de-list any NRL or AFL games until a mechanism which protects the quality of free-to-air games has been settled, so an important part of the reforms is still not finalised.

The reforms include changes to the anti-siphoning list which will take effect from 1 January 2011. However until the passage of legislative amendments the Government intends to introduce in early 2011, the current regulatory regime will apply to the acquisition and broadcast of these events.


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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.