EYE-BALL Opinion – Free-to-Air TV and NRL Broadcasts – it’s definitely not about pleasing the fans –
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– it’s definitely not about pleasing the fans –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 4th May 2013 |
|For some weeks now I have been trying to get some answers from Channel 9 re NRL live broadcasts, and why they don’t have the broadcast rights to show replays of the Pay-For-View games.
The question has been asked many times – why are pay-for-view games not replayed on free-to-air, when pay-for-view have the rights to replay free-to-air games?
Since pay-for-view became available in Australia in 1995, each new broadcast deal for the major sporting codes in Australia has seen free-to-air broadcasts lose ground to the benefit of pay-for-view broadcast rights.
Foxtel [pay-for-view] broadcast the NRL games using their infrastructure and other resources. ‘Channel 9’ then purchase the rights off Foxtel for the free-to-air NRL games – yet under the current legislation free-to-air have first right of refusal on all NRL premiership matches.
The NRL’s first responsibility should be to the game and the fans, and for fans not to be able to see their team play every week, be it live or on replay, is the NRL horse-trading the game for more money rather than looking after the fans. As a result the game does suffer.
This issue has been like a bugg-up-my-ass for years – in the modern era where televised sport becomes the lifeblood of remote and local communities, one would think both the NRL and the free-to-air broadcaster would be looking to do right by the fans as a first option. Three premiership games out of eight every weekend does not favour the fans or the game.
At a minimum the right to replay all NRL premiership games should be available to the free-to-air broadcaster. To this scenario – the latest new NRL broadcast contracts were negotiated in late 2012.
Foxtel and Channel 9 agreed to pay $1.025 billion over 5 years for joint broadcast rights.
One could reasonably have expect the new supposedly improved and savvy NRL CEO, and with the expansion of Channel 9 channels looking for late night programing that would be most profitable with advertisers, would have been looking for ways to appease fans and give the game back to the fans.
With the disappointment of not being able the see the NRL Round 6 game between the ‘Storm’ and ‘Rabbitohs’ free-to-air either live or on replay, I contacted Channel 9 via their ‘ninemsn’ on-line contact link.
That contact is copied below:
The following response came a day later:
You note that the letter was not forwarded on to the relevant contact – but sent back with ‘freetv’ links, and only a physical address and phone number contacts for Channel 9.
I then wrote to my local NRL broadcast affiliate WIN Network and received the following response:
This response also did not answer my question apart for the obvious that the pay-for-view games were not available to Channel 9 and its affiliate networks for broadcast. The question raised was about the ‘WHY’.
I followed up and contacted the WIN Network executive who wrote the letter late last week. During that conversation the following was stated –
Some free-to-air and pay-for-view history:
For some years the free-to-air sport broadcast content in Australia for major International and Domestic sporting events has slowly been transferred to pay-for-view – all with Government Legislation to allow it to happen.
The 2013 ‘Masters Golf’ tournament was picked up by the 10 Network, but the British Open last year, and this year was and will be broadcast on pay-for-view only.
Both these International events have equal footing and prestige in Golfing circles. Why one and not the other?
Australian golfers have won the British Open numerous times ,and it was only Adam Scott’s victory this year that saw an Australian as a winner of the Masters. The British Open has prime time advantages for Australian broadcasters and advertisers when compared with the Masters early morning starts.
The 2010 Anti-Siphoning list drawn up by the Federal Government included the following events under Golf: – link to full sport/event anti siphoning list
When Pay-for-view first came to Australia, Australia Sport was a protected species as was a number of International sporting events. The legislation for ‘anti-siphoning’ laws comes under Senator Conroy’s portfolio – and perhaps no more need be said.
There was a report submitted by the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations published in 2001 – linked here – that was in response to an investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Authority [ABA] into the events on the anti-siphoning list. The ABA final 2001 report can be read here …
This ABA report gives some history of the before arrangements relating to deals between pay-for-view and free-to-air broadcasters in the period before the anti-siphoning ‘list of events’ became a part of the legislation.
However – even before this ‘list of events’ became Law in 2006, some original laws pertaining to the anti-siphoning were introduced in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 .
The 2006 list outlined all events that were protected in favour of free-to-air broadcasters – i.e. they had first refusal. The 2006 ‘list’ can be read in full detail here …
The Department of Broadband, Communications, and Digital economy, Senator Conroy’s portfolio, has its own history of the Anti-Siphoning laws and amendments. Linked here …
In a media release from Senator Conroy in Nov 2010 – the following text was published …
The question remains against all the right of refusal entitlements – why have Channel 9 not availed themselves to the NRL premiership games as the Legislation provides for – either on a replay basis, or in terms of the right to broadcast more NRL games live on free-to-air?
Have Foxtel outsmarted Channel 9 in negotiations with the NRL as the WIN Network executive suggested?
Or – is it a case that financial issues exist that make Channel 9 beholding to Foxtel to retain the very lucrative NRL broadcasts? Does Channel 9 kowtow to Foxtel on the deal with the NRL – and if so … does this breach the intent of the anti-siphoning Legislation when other National free-to-air broadcasters want to be able to compete for the NRL rights?
Could it also be that the exclusive rights to the live ‘State of Origin’ broadcast on Channel 9 is the trade-off giving Foxtel rights to 5 of the 8 NRL games available for broadcast week to week?
Whatever – the NRL have the last say on what deal they want in place to protect and administer the game – why have they allowed the free-to-air replay of pay-for-view games to not be available to Channel 9 for replay broadcast?
It would seem the fans are not the NRL’s first consideration.
The more we let big business encroach on our sporting events for profit – the less live broadcast we will get. Look at where the ARU game has gone.
The flip side of this equation measures up as well – without the pay-for-view broadcasters in the game, the money filtering through to the players would only be a fraction of the current levels.
So many large business’s made a living off the NRL premiership – sponsors put up hard-earned money to be a part of the game. The big profits come from the broadcast players and with Foxtel pretty much the only player in the market in Australia – they get the code without having to bid against any genuine competition.
All the fans want is to be able to watch their team every week – live or on replay – that should not be too much to ask.
This is an ongoing story and NRL fans deserve a better deal and should have their say. Please use the links below to write to your Local Federal Member(s) and/or Senator(s) to voice your opinions.
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