The Free TV industry is not buying into reports that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is doing the rounds among MPs to shore up support for changing the anti-siphoning list.
The Australian reported on Monday that Turnbull was in discussions with MPs about adding changes to the anti-siphoning list, relaxing the number of sporting events which would be ring-fenced for free-to-air networks.
Major sports – including AFL, NRL, football, rugby union, tennis, and cricket – are included on the anti-siphoning list, meaning substantial chunks of the sports are not allowed to be bid on by pay TV operators such as Foxtel.
However, as part of a broader suite of media reform, Turnbull is thought to be canvassing the idea of opening up the list for bidding at the behest of major sporting codes which are keen to foster competition for sporting rights.
“It's been put to us to see if it's something they could move on,” The Australian quoted a source within Parliament as saying.
However, despite being stridently against any changes to anti-siphoning, Free TV Australia is playing its cards close to its chest and refusing to decry the latest speculation.
CEO Julie Flynn told AdNews this morning that it was unaware of any solid proposal being put to MPs.
“We are simply unaware of any change to the minister's public position on the issue, nor any change in appetite from the Australian public for any such change to the anti-siphoning list,” Flynn said.
Flynn added that the only change to anti-siphoning it would support was an allowance to show key sporting contests on networks' additional channels, now the digital switch had been completed.
She pointed to comments made by the minister in the Australian Financial Review last month, where he stated that watching sport on free-to-air TV was a “very Australian arrangement”.
The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association was unavailable for comment this morning.
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