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SBD Global/November 25, 2013/Media

Pay-TV Groups Foxtel, Fox Sports Call For Sport Rights Reorganization

Pay-TV groups Foxtel and Fox Sports will push new Australia Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull "for a dramatic reduction in the size of the anti-siphoning list and a shake-up of the government's approach to future sports rights deals," according to Nick Tabakoff of THE AUSTRALIAN. Foxtel will lobby Turnbull "for a number of top sporting fixtures not played on Australian soil to be taken off the anti-siphoning list, which protects live broadcasts of major sporting events on free-to-air TV." Under this scenario, a likely wish list for Foxtel and Fox Sports to be removed from the anti-siphoning list "would include: Wimbledon and the US Open tennis; Ashes cricket Tests played in England; golf's Masters; World Cup soccer qualification matches played by the Socceroos in other countries; and tests played by national teams, the Kangaroos in rugby league and the Wallabies in rugby union, in other countries." Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein "will argue that the current process of bidding for sports rights allows free-to-air networks to be the 'gatekeepers' of those rights, with pay-TV only allowed to gain a piece of these rights once FTAs have picked the eyes out of them." Freudenstein said, "A system where rights were split, so that the networks were entitled to acquire the free-to-air rights -- but where others were not blocked from obtaining other rights until after the networks had done so -- would solve the gatekeeper problem and reduce regulatory complexity. The result would be: more money and control for the sports codes; major events still seen on free-to-air TV; certainty for subscription TV and other players; and reduced compliance costs for everyone" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/25).
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