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Is Australia’s “anti-siphon list” still the best way to protect live sports broadcasts?

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Friday September 17, 2021 By Andrew Riordan, Sophie Timms

The launch of pay TV in the 1990s in Australia raised political concerns that the Australian general public would no longer be able to access major sporting events on free TV. It was believed that pay-TV operators would have more ways to ‘siphon’ events like the Australian Football League (AFL) The Grand Final, the Melbourne Cup and the Olympic Games behind a paywall.

This concern led to the creation of an anti-siphoning list (The list), established under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) and aimed to ensure that specific sporting events remain accessible free of charge.

However, the evolution of the sports broadcasting landscape over the past 30 years has led to the belief that the list is no longer the most effective method of guaranteeing Australia free access to major sporting events.[1]. Of particular importance is:

  1. Following the fragmentation of the broadcasting market, where viewers are no longer limited to watching sporting events on free-to-air networks, it would appear that the anti-siphoning list is restricting competition with its now less relevant original purpose.
  2. It is for this reason that further measures should be implemented to ensure that Australians can access the level and variety of sports to meet consumer satisfaction, including societal benefits through greater exposure. in women’s and parasportive sports.
  3. Many sports fans have switched to pay TV or streaming services due to the freedom of choice, increased content and lack of advertising.

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About the Author

Sophie timms

Sophie timms

Sophie is a lawyer in the Risk Advisory and Financial Restructuring and Insolvency teams at Norton Rose Fulbright, Melbourne. She obtained her Juris Doctor (including a Graduate Certificate in Sports Law) in February 2020. Prior to joining Norton Rose Fulbright, she worked as a paralegal for the Solicitors Assisting on the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informers.

André Riordan

André Riordan

Andrew Riordan is a Melbourne-based dispute resolution lawyer and partner at Norton Rose Fulbright Australia. He specializes in corporate, competition and consumer law litigation and regulatory investigations.



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