The utter futility of the anti-siphoning laws will be on full view on Saturday night when Channel Nine begins its telecast of the tri-nations match between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis at 6.30pm – at about the exact time the game being played in Auckland will end.
And it is worth comparing Nine’s attitude with that of Seven. When the Wallabies play the All Blacks in New Zealand, Seven shows the game live, and adjusts its evening news timing to do so.
But not Channel Nine, which has a long history of taking rugby league fans for granted, as well as the game’s administrators who have an equally long history of doing absolutely nothing to prevent Nine doing so!
But maybe fans in Sydney and Brisbane should be thankful for small mercies. In Melbourne, the game – which will feature at least two Storm players making their test debut (Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith) – will be shown at 11.45pm on Saturday night.
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Just two weeks ago, we were told by a Nine executive that Eddie McGuire was the new saint of rugby league in Melbourne. The halo has not just slipped – it has evaporated.
And what pressing television commitment – other than the nightly news – has pushed the test telecast back by an hour and a half? While the game is actually being played, Nine will be showing Australia’s Funniest Home Videos. Pathetic!
But don’t blame Nine entirely. The Federal Government has done absolutely nothing to make the anti-siphoning laws effective, and the Australian Rugby League has again proven itself to be the most impotent sporting body in the land.
This is what the ARL Chairman, Colin Love, had to say last night:
Naturally we would prefer the game to be shown live but you have to be realistic. Nine has its news at 6pm and they can’t run the risk of interfering with that.
In Crikey’s letters a couple of days ago, Ten’s business manager of network sport, Gerard Patane, wrote about how all three commercial networks are behind a campaign to protect the anti-siphoning rules, savemysport, preaching concern for fans of major sporting events.
But Nine has shown us the reality. The rules should be simple – if the free-to-air channels won’t show events on the anti-siphoning list live, pay television should be allowed to.
And Foxtel – which won’t be able to show the game until 10pm – would grab the chance to do so.