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Conroy confirms: soccer punished with a return to anti-siphoning

The Socceroos’ World Cup qualifying matches will be moved onto the anti-siphoning list from 2014, Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told caucus this morning.

Conroy fielded several questions about the anti-siphoning list, originally scheduled for cabinet consideration last Monday but shifted till next week, the last parliamentary sitting week of the year. According to a Labor spokesman, Conroy — a keen soccer fan — told caucus that soccer matches would be added to the anti-siphoning list after 2013. The Age reported last week that the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifiers might be added to the list.

The current anti-siphoning list, which expires on 31 December, includes only the FA Cup Final and the 2006 and 2010 World Cups for soccer. Domestic soccer was removed from the list by then-communications minister Daryl Williams in 2004 after the local National Soccer League collapsed. The Seven Network had previously held the broadcast rights but persistently refused to show matches live and, eventually, showed barely any.

Once the new A-League competition was up and running, Football Federation Australia took advantage of being liberated from the list to negotiate a lucrative $120m deal with Fox Sports, far more than the FFA would have received from the free-to-airs under the anti-siphoning list. The 2006 deal included all home internationals, including World Cup-qualifying matches, and lasts until 2013. Traditional soccer broadcaster SBS was particularly unhappy about the deal.

The FFA now faces the probability of a substantially-diminished return from the sale of its post-2014 rights given World Cup qualifiers are, along with the World Cup itself, the only time mainstream audiences tune in to soccer broadcasts. It faces the problem of having to sell its A-League competition rights without being able to package them with the internationals, given the lack of FTA interest in broadcasting domestic matches.┬áThe likely cut in revenue — inflicted with no compensation from government — will filter down to the junior and grassroots levels of the code.

A spokesperson for Senator Conroy declined to comment on what the ninister had said to caucus.

4
  • 1
    John Neil
    Posted Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    The Nannyster for Broadband and the Ninnyster for Broadcasting?

  • 2
    terryg
    Posted Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    The whole anti siphoning issue could be eliminated by actually banning exclusive rights to broadcast any sports event. This would mean that any broadcaster could cover an event if they so desired and were prepared to pay a fee to the relevant sports association.

    It may well provide greater competitition and more choice in sports broadcasts. Exclusive rights was actually instigated by sports administators who were intent on getting maximum returns from broadcasters, but it has turned against them with media organisations now calling the shots and dictating to sports about times and rules. Many competitions are even owned by the media.

    Before exclusive rights more than one network could cover a sport such as AFL, today with the digital sub channels there is much to be gained by ending this anti competitive practise.

  • 3
    Roberto Tedesco
    Posted Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Where’s the punishment? Showing Australian national games on free to air is better for Australian football than any $m from Foxtel.

  • 4
    Gweeds
    Posted Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, I am in two minds about this. I see the point that the FFA may not have a bargaining chip for the A-League. However in my opinion there is a principle of equity here. As I wrote to the Senate anti-siphoning inquiry, I thought that it was not right that other codes such as Rugby Union tests and Netball are FTA, and not Association Football. It marginalises the sport and limits its coverage. The Socceroos is Association Football’s best asset in Australia and needs to be seen as much as possible.

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