Press release from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced that an interim anti-siphoning list has been made to ensure the continued operation of the anti-siphoning scheme.

The existing anti-siphoning list was due to expire on 31 December this year and without a new list there would be no ongoing protection of sport on free-to-air television.

“The making of the interim list forms part of the Government’s broad agenda to strengthen and modernise the anti-siphoning scheme”, Senator Conroy said.

“I announced the details of these reforms on 25 November and the making of this list will ensure continuity of the scheme until such time as these broad reforms are fully implemented.”

The new list has been revised to ensure it remains relevant to Australian audiences and to reflect the commercial realities of the sporting and broadcasting sectors.

The list reflects the popularity of certain sports, with some Twenty20 cricket matches and FIFA World Cup qualifying matches involving Australia added.

The new list does not include previously listed events that have traditionally received little or no free-to-air television coverage, such as the British Open golf and French Open tennis tournaments.

In other aspects, the new list specifies the same events as the previous list.

The Government continues to work with stakeholders in finalising elements of the reform model that will maintain the quality of sports on free-to-air television.

The Government will put in place a mechanism to protect the quality of AFL games on free-to-air television.

This mechanism will ensure, as is the case now, that Friday and Saturday night games are able to be purchased by free-to-air, and that these feature the two best games of each round, as selected by the AFL.

It will also ensure that South Australian and Western Australian viewers will be able to watch matches involving teams from their respective home states each week on free-to-air, and that Anzac Day and Queen’s Birthday games are also available on free-to-air.

The Government will achieve this by regulation or an alternative arrangement agreed with stakeholders.

The Government expects to negotiate a similar quality-assurance mechanism for weekly NRL games with Australian Rugby League’s newly-formed Independent Commission.

Until these quality guarantees are agreed, all games of AFL and NRL will remain listed events, preventing their acquisition by a Pay TV licence holder until free-to-air broadcasters have a right to televise those events.

In early 2011, details on these quality guarantees for free-to-air coverage of AFL and NRL matches will be announced and legislation to amend the anti-siphoning scheme will be introduced into the Parliament.

Passage of the legislation will enable the Government to make a new, two-tier anti-siphoning list that will work in conjunction with the new scheme to enhance television coverage of key sporting events in Australia.

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