On 20 August 2009, the Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the release of a discussion paper ‘Sport on Television: A Review of the Anti-siphoning Scheme in the Contemporary Digital Environment’.
This paper is intended to stimulate public debate about the scheme and inform the Australian Government’s considerations of the effectiveness and appropriateness of the anti‑siphoning scheme in the contemporary digital television environment.
Naturally I have a strong opinion about how the Socceroo matches are being treated in this scheme. So here is my submission.
As it is stated in your document, the main rationale for listing events is “demonstrated national significance, such as Australian involvement”.
For this reason it is surprising that games that involve the soccer national teams have not being placed on the anti-siphoning list. At the moment only matches the Socceroos will play at the FIFA World Cup are free to air. It is good that they have qualified for the World Cup, otherwise there would be no matches shown on free to air television.
This is a very inequitable situation. Your list shows that Channel 7 can show Rugby Union Test matches involving Australia and played in Australia, and Netball Test matches on Channel 10. Why the same level of access is not afforded to the Australian Soccer National team?
The only thing I can envisage was that the Minister (and her advisers) that made the decision were unaware that soccer is no more that ‘foreign code’ but an integral part of the Australian Sporting landscape. This seem to be enforced by the bizarre decision to include the FA Cup in the anti-siphoning list. This shows how out of touch those who made the decision were, as the FA Cup importance in the soccer calendar has decreased in recent years, and also why include an event between two English teams and not those where Australia is represented?
Many soccer supporters feel that the decision to not to place Socceroos games on the anti-siphoning list is anachronistic and does not reflect the current interest in the game currently enjoyed in Australia.