Anticipated changes to Australia’s anti-siphoning laws after the upcoming Federal election could open the option for networks to broadcast V8 Supercar points races on digital-only multi-channels on a live or first-run basis.
The Age has today reported that Federal Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy has briefed executives from Australia’s free-to-air television networks regarding his ideas for the government’s planned changes to the laws should Labor be re-elected on August 21.
“The ability for the free-to-air networks to use their secondary digital channels to broadcast sports is on the cards, say those who attended the meeting – a move that will infuriate the pay-TV industry,” writes Fairfax sports reporter Mike Hawthorne.
“The minister is said to have given the ‘the best indication yet’ that rights-holders will be able to broadcast some first-run sport on free-to-air digital stations under changes to the anti-siphoning regulations, but no details were revealed.”
All points races of the V8 Supercars Championship Series currently sit on the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Sports Anti-Siphoning List.
If the reported changes occur, V8 Supercars could be placed on a second ‘B list’, allowing races to be screened live or first-run on digital multi-channels such as 7TWO or ONE HD, or taken off the list all together, allowing pay television networks to bid directly for the first-run broadcast rights.
At present the Seven Network holds the broadcast rights for the points races in the V8 Supercars Championship Series. In the past Seven has aired replays on 7TWO, but this year FOX Sports has acquired replay rights.
A change in V8 Supercars’ status on the anti-siphoning list could enhance Network Ten’s interest in reclaiming the V8 television rights when the current deal with Seven expires at the end of 2012.
A move in the laws would allow Ten’s digital sports channel ONE HD to screen V8 races live or first-run without the need to simulcast across both Ten and ONE.
The non-points V8 races at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne have been screened on ONE HD for the past two seasons as they fall outside the reach of the anti-siphoning list as non-championship events.
It is estimated that roughly 60 percent of Australian households now have access to HD digital television, which allows access to all free-to-air multi-channels (ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News24, Seven, Seven HD, 7TWO, Nine, Nine High-Def, GO!, Ten, ONE HD & SD, SBS ONE, SBS HD and SBS TWO).
Minister Conroy has waived the laws on specific occasions, most recently when SBS requested the right to broadcast World Cup football fixtures on its second channel, SBS TWO, during the recent tournament in South Africa.
The only other motorsports properties to appear on the present anti-siphoning list are the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, Australian MotoGP, and now-defunct Australian leg of the IndyCar Series.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority – Sports Anti-Siphoning List: 2006-2010
Section 12 – Motor Sports
12.1 Each race in the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile Formula 1 World Championship (Grand Prix) held in Australia.
12.2 Each race in the MotoGP held in Australia.
12.3 Each race in the V8 Supercars Championship Series (including the Bathurst 1000).
12.4 Each race in the Champ Car World Series (IndyCar) held in Australia.
CLICK HERE for Mike Hawthorne’s report in The Age.