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EYE-BALL Opinion – Free-to-Air TV and NRL Broadcasts – it’s definitely not about pleasing the fans –

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Title:
– Free to Air TV and NRL Broadcasts –
– 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:

From: EYE-BALL
Sent: Friday, 12 April 2013 10:00 PM
To: ‘customer.service@ninemsn.com.au’
Subject: NRL – Replay of pay-for-view games on free-to-air …

Dear Sir,

It has confounded me for some years why Channel 9 refuses to accept their responsibilities to NRL fans by not replaying ‘pay-for-view’ games during the week. This weeks round offers the best match up in many a year – Storm v Souths, and outside pay-for-view or club attendance, the game will go unwatched with no mid-week replay for fans who only have free-to-air options.

Foxtel replays all matches during the week, including those telecast by Channel 9.

Club fans of matches not shown on free-to-air do not get to see their teams play unless covered by weekend free-to-air coverage.

With the recent $billion + paid for the rights to televise NRL matches, can you please explain why no foresight was apparent that would provide all NRL fans with the options to see their team play every week be it live or on replay through free-to-air?

I believe you do a disservice to the NRL fan base and would like an explanation as to why this does not happen.

kind regards …

The following response came a day later:

… 13th Apr 2013.

Thanks for your e-mail to ninemsn.

Regrettably, ninemsn has no control over the general programming or content of Channel Nine broadcasts (we manage the ninemsn website but do not have any part in Channel Nine’s operations) and cannot forward your comments on to Channel Nine as they do not accept feedback by e-mail. However, Channel Nine does accept feedback lodged electronically via the FreeTV site contact form:

http://www.freetv.com.au/Content_Common/OnlineComplaintStep1.aspx

As per the information on the FreeTV site, once your feedback is submitted, Free TV will provide it to the station you have selected and the station will respond to you directly. More information regarding how you may provide feedback can also be found on the following page of the FreeTV website:

http://www.freetv.com.au/content_common/pg-viewer-feedback.seo

Alternatively, you are welcome to write to Channel Nine via the following postal address to provide your feedback:

The Compliance Manager
Channel Nine
24 Artarmon Road
Willoughby 2068 NSW

For general enquiries and comments regarding television shows or broadcasting, please call Channel Nine on any of the following numbers:

Sydney: (02) 9906 9999
Melbourne: (03) 9429 0201
Brisbane: (07) 3214 9999
Adelaide: (08) 8267 0111
Perth: (08) 9449 9999
Hobart: (03) 6228 8999
Darwin: (08) 8981 8888

Kind regards,

Wil New
Customer Service
ninemsn / msn.co.nz

customer.service@ninemsn.com.au

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:

” … The Nine Network and subsequently the WIN Network as the regional affiliate of the Nine Network does not hold the rights to the pay per view NRL games.  They are held by Foxtel and not available to free to air broadcasters.”

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 –

  • the WIN executive/spokesperson stated they thought that the Foxtel negotiators were just smarter than the Channel 9 negotiators.
  • They also said they would welcome the opportunity to replay all NRL games,
  • they had the new Channel networks to offer for the replay,
  • they said it would be profitable and advertisers would be lined up,
  • they said they were ‘not welcome’ at the negotiation table for the NRL broadcast deal, and
  • ‘the deal struck was a crappy deal for the fans, and for the affiliate networks’.

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

Golf

11.1     Each round of the Australian Masters tournament, played as part of the Professional Golfers Association Tour of Australasia.

 11.2     Each round of the Australian Open tournament, played as part of the Professional Golfers Association Tour of Australasia.

11.3     Each round of the United States Masters tournament, played as part of the Professional Golfers Association Tour.

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 …

Media Releaselinked here

Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity

Reforms to the Anti-siphoning Scheme Announced

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy today announced a series of reforms to the anti-siphoning scheme that will enhance television coverage of key sporting events in Australia.

“The Gillard Government wants Australian sports fans to see major sporting events for free as they have always done and these reforms will ensure that Australia’s anti-siphoning scheme remains the strongest in the world,” Senator Conroy said.

“Our most popular and iconic sports will remain available to all Australians and the changes will allow free-to-air channels to take advantage of digital multi-channels to show more sport and show it live.”

The Government’s reforms are outlined in the position paper Sport on Television: Reform of the Anti-Siphoning Scheme and mark the culmination of an extensive process of engagement and consultation.

The main changes to the scheme are:

The introduction of two tiers of events on the anti-siphoning list – Tiers A and B
Tier A will comprise 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 will be required to broadcast these events live and in-full, with limited exceptions.

Tier B will comprise events such as the regular games of the AFL and NRL premierships seasons, and non-finals games of the Australian Open tennis. Free-to-air broadcasters will have the flexibility to televise these events on digital multi-channels, which will increase their capacity to show more sport on free-to-air television.

Senator Conroy said sports fans were at the centre of the Government’s reforms.

“Allowing broadcasters to use digital multi-channels will see a dramatic increase in the total coverage of sport and give flexibility for broadcasters to show more events live,” Senator Conroy said.

“Broadcasters will have the capacity to televise AFL games in Sydney or NRL games in Melbourne, live on a digital multi-channel, rather than providing it on long delay on their main channel. This will save many hours of sleep for avid fans who happen to live in the wrong city.”

In addition, the reforms will introduce ‘must-offer’ obligations on the free-to-air broadcasters, requiring them to televise anti-siphoning listed events they acquire or offer those rights on to another broadcaster. This will prevent rights to important sporting events going unused.

“No longer can a free-to-air broadcaster purchase an iconic national event, and then not show it at all. In these circumstances, they must now offer it on to another free-to-air broadcaster to show it,” Senator Conroy said.

The anti-siphoning list has also been updated, with popular and emerging sports such as Twenty20 cricket matches involving Australia added to the list. Australian events that are no longer broadcast on free-to-air television – for examples NRL and AFL games only shown on pay television – and less popular overseas events – for example non-Australian group games of the Rugby Union World Cup – have been removed from the list.

The Government is also today releasing the report of the statutory review of the anti‑siphoning scheme conducted in late 2009, Sport on television: a review of the anti‑siphoning scheme in the contemporary digital environment.

The review process was central to the development of the reform and the views expressed by industry participants and members of the general public helped to shape the Government’s decision. Over 330 submissions were made to the review.

The implementation of these reforms will require amendment to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Amending legislation will be drafted over the coming months and introduced into the Parliament as soon as possible.

Changes to the anti-siphoning list will be implemented shortly, although changes to the listing of NRL and AFL games will only be made once a regulation is in place or an alternative mechanism to protect the quality of free to air games is agreed by stakeholders. The Government will also seek to finalise the rules around the listing of FIFA World Cup and Socceroos World Cup Qualifier games. The current list expires on December 31 2010.

“These reforms to the anti-siphoning regime ensure that it continues to be the strongest such regime in the world, protecting the interests of free to air viewers as we move into the digital multi-channel era” said the Prime Minister.

To view the Government’s position paper Sport on Television: Reform of the Anti-Siphoning Scheme, the report of the statutory review Sport on television: a review of the anti‑siphoning scheme in the contemporary digital environment and the new Tier A and Tier B anti-siphoning lists visit: www.dbcde.gov.au/anti-siphoning

Date: 25 November 2010
Contact: Suzie Brady 02 6277 7480

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.


The EYE-BALL Opinion plea for action:

A Note:  This site is dedicated to having Gillard as Prime Minster removed by all legal means in the shortest timeframe possible.

Gillard’s Government is poison to this Nation … how do we get rid of her now?

The message has to be sent – there are some 14 million registered voters represented by 150 MP’s – 72 of which are ALP.    If each of these 72 ALP MP’s received an e-mail, a fax, a phone call, or a letter from all the people who want her gone with a simple message like the one below –  :

This is a protest message …
GET RID OF GILLARD

… do you think it might motivate caucus …

Please – send this message to as many and as often as you can – bombard the Caucus Members with a message so clear and with weight of numbers that it will force them to act.

You could also think about sending it to the Independents, Oakeshott, Windsor, Wilkie, and Brandt,  as well … Katter already votes with the Coalition, and Slipper and Thompson are a lost cause and their fate already sealed.

Links to every MP e-mail can be found using the Australian Parliamentary Website Members and Senator links below … pick your ALP MP or Senator, or send it to all – voice your opinion now.

Please – if you found this story to your liking and would like to promote it to your social media contacts – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, or other icon linked account below – please use/click on your favoured Icon(s) to promote the story.  Thankyou.


Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.

Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s


The EYE-BALL Opinion …

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  1. david the pragmatist
    May 5, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    As usual your research is excellent and the points made understood.
    From a simplicity point of view I understand what Foxtel is doing and quite simply they can afford to bid for the rights and receive the advantage. Free to Air cannot, probably the word free says it all.
    Before pay TV you are seeing no less now than you did previously.

    Yes I believe that free to air could do more by way of hightlight packages ect but the exclusivity of pay tv is in itself a reason to exist. With downloaded programmes and the like their monopoly continues to be weakened. Have you explored being able to download NRL games?
    I pay a premium for pay tv and the exclusivity issue needs to be maintained to justify my cost.
    If it gets to the stage of losing its exclusivity then I will not subscribe anymore.
    THis is a case of the haves’ and have nots’ and unfortunately everyone can’t eat steak unless they are prepared to pay a premium over mince. Sorry case rests.

  2. May 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    The ‘live’ verses ‘replay’ exclusivity remains David – you’ve miss the point –

    Foxtel can replay the free-to-air gams but that broadcast recopicity is not there … the NRL have a duty of care to the fans to ensure they get the best coverage and the ‘live’ ratio of 5 to 3 is that exclusivity – why does it prevent the replay on free-to-air …

  3. Des
    May 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Forget about the Rugby League – I’d like to see at least one game of Super Rugby on FTA TV each weekend! There will always be an Australian team playing at some stage on Saturday night… Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies, Rebels or Force… There’s AFL aplenty, and NRL on 9, but no flippin Rugby… All games are pay TV. No wonder Rugby is struggling in Australia…

  4. david the pragmatist
    May 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Des,you are obviously a person with a small attention span.
    Obviously the person you are addressing is not interested in a relative sense of ARU but in the sense of his view about Rugby League specifically on FTA.

    This said make your point without being so rude as starting the way you did. Opinion on different sports is subjective and this should be recognised as manners.If you want to be biased about a particular sport (And I like Rugby as well) then do so in context. In saying this it shows that you are interested in sport but not necessarily a good sport when looking at the genre.
    Back to the points Eye Ball is making and that is the duty of care issue. I am not sure that duty of care is relevant as much as the commercialism of the rights ie Pay TV continues to replay for the next week after live games are shown. Maybe they could authorise Free to Air to have replay rights after the expiry of the first week? I am saying this because whilst the free to air has a contributary value, then obviously so does the replay within the first week of Pay TV. This may provide something of a solution as you would have games to watch every week, but just on a one week lag.

    Back to your point Des, Rugby is struggling in Australia because of the International rules and the type of referreeing that is being applied. Unless your a rugby purist then it is a difficult game to appreciate. Its interesting to note that originally my wife and i preferred to watch super rugby over an alternative league game, not so anymore, Of cause this is a subjective opinion and not one shared by everyone.I can appreciate all sports but I do not like soccer and AFL as sports to sit down in front of the TV and watch, but I aknowlege all the positives about both games and the enormous following they have.

  5. May 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I was an ARU fan until John O’Neill became involved – the reasons why can be read via teh EYE-BALL NovelZone link here … https://bleyzie.wordpress.com/eye-ball-novelzone-chapter-index-human-evil-exposed-john-oneill/

    The Foxtel takeover of Rugby happened under O’Neill’s watch and the Government offered up no protection via the anti-siphoning laws …

    I guess it bacame what the game represents – a rich mans game played mostly at private schools and the like – perhaps the view was that the fans could pay the Foxtel fee to watch the game … or it might be a case that the game has become boring in the way the ruck and defensive line limit the options of playmakers … or again – maybe Channel 7 realised they could not make money out of live broadcasts.

  6. Barry M
    May 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Boy could one have a field day on DtP’s reply to Des. But it seems DtP is a little sensitive soul so I wont offend his sensitivities.
    I will make one comparison though.
    Des opened his comment with “forget about rugby league”
    DtP did not like this opening remark and thought Des was ‘rude’
    DtP opened his reply with “you are obviously a person with a small attention span” followed by “make your point without being rude”
    One person comments on a particular sport the other person belittles the first person.
    Who is the rude one ?

  7. Firecracker
    May 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    David the Prag has been around this site since the beginning and those who know him try to ignore his praddle and the ‘rude’ intrusions – mostly he does not even know he is doin’ it.

    He is a sensitive pratt and it’s not hard to get under his skin and when it happens, he paddles off and sulks for a while before he comes back to do it all over again.

    Your comment is spot on Barry M.

  8. david the pragmatist
    May 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    It would seem that sensitivity is something that is a weakness in me. According to my betters, who equally it would seem are here to show their ‘one up man ship’.
    Using such an admirable premise I would ask Barry to “have a field day at my expense” and for “firecracker” to go off! somewhere else. How would firecracker know “he does not even know he is doin’ it”. I do not know firecracker and am therefore uncertain what he does know?………It seems that sensitivity could be an something that we could all learn to understand more about, wether its mine or someone elses’ doesn’t matter.

    I look forward to receiving something a little more “pithy” in response.

  9. May 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

    The Chanel 9 Cricket broadcasts rights are under threat – and guess why – the Channel 9 exec’s refuse to broadcast the Shield final and other domestic matches Cricket Australia want televised.

    Sound familiar … read story… here – http://www.smh.com.au/business/domestic-dispute-puts-ca-and-nine-on-brink-of-split-20130509-2javo.html

    Surely Channel 9 owe cricket and league fans a better deal …

  10. david the pragmatist
    May 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    That’s pretty pithy.

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