22 May, 2024
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Major sporting events to stay free from paywalls


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Iconic Australian sporting events will remain free for punters for the next three years as the federal government reviews how they can be broadcast moving forward.

Major matches such as the AFL and NRL grand finals along with the Olympic and Commonwealth games will remain paywall-free, with free-to-air providers to get first dibs on securing broadcast rights.

Big sporting codes are unlikely to be happy with the call, having last year told the government’s review into the scheme they wanted the list of events shortened so they could sell more behind paywalls.

The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports said higher TV rights prices would mean they had more money to invest in things such as women’s sports.

But Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government would work through the review of anti-siphoning laws this year and deliver a longer-term plan.

She said the initial industry feedback highlighted a need for further consultation on specific reforms.

“Every Australian deserves the chance to enjoy live and free coverage of events of national significance, regardless of where they live or what they earn,” Ms Rowland said.

“The Albanese government recognises the need for events of national importance and cultural significance to remain free of charge and accessible to the Australian public, as well as the need for certainty around the list while the review of the anti-siphoning scheme is undertaken in 2023.”

The review is designed to help modernise the anti-siphoning scheme, given it was implemented in 1994.

The sports body’s submission said anti-siphoning laws are “unfairly anti-competitive” and unnecessary.

Listing large sections of matches such as the entire AFL and NRL seasons was “unreasonable”, it said.

The review is part of a larger suite of government media reforms.

— Alex Mitchell

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