Pay TV opens review on gambling ads in live sports

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 23 November 2017

The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) is reviewing its codes around gambling ads in live sports broadcasts.

It is opening consultation with the industry on a draft of the Subscription Television Broadcasting and Narrowcasting Codes of Practice that would see stricter restrictions put in place

Submissions are welcome until 22 December, and any changes must be approved by the Australian Communications and Media Authority before coming into effect in March 2018.

The new provisions are on top of the existing code and mean more restrictions between 5.00 am and 8.30pm.

The include:

  • a ban on the broadcast of commercials relating to betting and gambling during live sporting events including during scheduled and unscheduled breaks
  • a ban on the broadcast of commercials relating to betting and gambling and promotion of betting odds for 5 minutes before the scheduled start time of play and 5 minutes after the conclusion of play.

It follows an announcement from government in May 2017 as part of the Media Reform package, and increasing pressure form lobby groups to take a more responsible stance on what is seen by many as damaging. 

An AdNews report into sports betting ads earlier this year found that gambling ads are the fastest growing segment in terms of ad spend.

Since 2011, the amount of money spent on gambling ads has risen 160% from $91 million to $236 million in 2015, according to Standard Media Index (SMI) figures. 

Read: Gambling ads: place your bets 

The radio body CRA opened a similar review last month. 

The new provisions refer to “Betting Advertising”but excludes fantasy sports and sports tipping competitions.

It also excludes the appearance on any live sports broadcast, the inclusion of any Advertising or signage that appears at the event, and is therefore out of the TV network's control.

It also tightens up the definition of when ‘play’ starts so that networks can accurately identify when the five-minute exclusion period is.

Promotion of betting odds during a live sporting event may not be broadcast from 5 minutes before the commencement of Play until 5 minutes after the conclusion of Play.

There are distinct rules for different sports, as per the chart below.

Source: ASTRA

TV networks would still be able to air gambling ads between 8:30 pm and 4:59 am before play, during scheduled breaks, during unscheduled postponements and after play has concluded.

ASTRA chair and Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh says: “ASTRA is committed to working with Government to ensure the new Code restrictions meet the Government’s policy intent and provide appropriate community safeguards.”

“The new restrictions will provide additional protections at times when children are likely to be watching. Existing restrictions will continue to apply at all other times.”

Full details of the consultation process including the draft provisions can be accessed here. 

Read: Fake gambling ads highlight real problems 

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