Australia Shields Sports from Paywalls

gabriel barkhan
By:
Gabriel Barkhan
30/11/2023
News
Australia Shields Sports from Paywalls

Proposed laws aim to include online streaming in anti-siphoning rules to prevent iconic sports events from disappearing behind paywalls

News Insights

  • Australian anti-siphoning laws to cover online streaming services.
  • Proposal targets iconic sports events against disappearing behind paywalls.
  • Matildas' FIFA Women's World Cup matches added to anti-siphoning list.
  • Legislation to give Australian free-to-air services prominence on TV menus.

Australia aims to modernize its anti-siphoning laws to prevent iconic sports events from disappearing behind online paywalls. The proposed reforms seek to extend existing legislation to include online streaming services, preserving cherished national sporting moments.

In a bid to prevent cherished Australian sporting events from disappearing behind online paywalls, the federal government is advocating for an update to the country's anti-siphoning scheme. The current legislation aims to ensure that subscription television cannot secure broadcasting rights before free-to-air television has had the opportunity to acquire them. However, with the advent of online streaming services, the existing scheme falls short of covering this digital landscape.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland emphasizes the need for modernization, asserting that failing to do so may result in Australians losing access to sports coverage traditionally available for free. The proposed reforms seek to extend the anti-siphoning scheme to include online streaming services, a move designed to safeguard iconic sporting events and moments that hold national significance.

The anti-siphoning list, which presently includes sports like the AFL, the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open, Test cricket, the Olympic, and Commonwealth Games, is at the core of this legislative update. While the minister can currently modify this list, extending its reach to streaming services necessitates formal legislative amendments.

Rowland acknowledges that broadcasting laws have not kept pace with the digital age, prompting the need for these reforms. She underlines that the goal is to prevent beloved sporting events from being relegated behind international streaming paywalls, thereby preserving the collective experiences that bind the nation.

Moreover, the proposed changes also intend to broaden the scope of the anti-siphoning scheme by placing a heightened emphasis on women's and para-sports. This evolution aligns with a broader societal shift towards inclusivity and recognition of diverse sporting achievements.

The move has drawn reactions from industry players, with a Foxtel Group spokesperson expressing concerns about the perceived adverse impact on platforms like theirs. They argue that the current regime is already anti-competitive and favors free-to-air broadcasters over the needs of sporting bodies.

In tandem with these anti-siphoning reforms, the government is introducing legislation to grant Australian free-to-air services and their streaming apps greater visibility on television menus. This aims to counteract the pre-installation of subscription apps on TVs, which some argue leads audiences toward paid services. Minister Rowland suggests that this prominence framework will mitigate the risk of free-to-air broadcasting services being overshadowed by larger international players in the Australian market.

In summary, Australia's proposed legislative updates underscore a commitment to preserving the accessibility of iconic sports moments for all Australians. By adapting to the digital age, the government aims to strike a balance between the evolving media landscape and the enduring tradition of free-to-air sports coverage.

Australia's federal government proposes updates to anti-siphoning laws, addressing the digital age's impact on sports broadcasting. The move aims to include streaming services, ensuring Australians retain access to beloved sporting events traditionally available for free.