The anti-siphoning scheme prevents pay television broadcasters from buying the rights to events on the anti-siphoning list before free-to-air broadcasters have the opportunity to purchase the rights. The anti-siphoning list includes events the minister believes should be made available free to the general public.
Inclusion on the anti-siphoning list does not guarantee a particular event will be shown on free-to-air television because free-to-air broadcasters are not required to buy the rights to events on the list. Even if they do acquire such rights, they are not currently required to use them or, when they do, to show an event live or within a specified timeframe.
Free-to-air broadcasters are also currently prevented from premiering (or exclusively showing) an event on the anti-siphoning list on their digital multichannels.
Pay television broadcasters can acquire the right to televise an anti-siphoning event if a national broadcaster or commercial television broadcasters that cover more than 50 percent of the Australian population have the right to televise the event, or if the event has been automatically delisted. Automatic delisting refers to the removal of events on the anti-siphoning list 12 weeks before they commence. The minister can override the automatic removal of an event from the list if satisfied that a free-to-air broadcaster has not had a reasonable opportunity to acquire the rights to that particular event.
The minister can also choose to add or remove events from the anti-siphoning list at any time. As the anti-siphoning list is made via a legislative instrument, any changes to the list involve the making of another legislative instrument.
On 22 March 2012, the Australian Government introduced into parliament the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Anti-siphoning) Bill 2012 (the Bill). The Bill gives effect to the reforms to the anti-siphoning scheme and list announced by the minister on 25 November 2010, which followed an earlier review and consultation process.
The parliament referred the Bill to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The committee conducted hearings in relation to the Bill on 13 April 2012 and reported on 4 May 2012.
The Bill will, among other things, allow for the making of a two-tier anti-siphoning list (Tier A and Tier B) and allow the minister to ensure that the traditional number of and types of AFL and NRL matches shown on free-to-air television are protected by the list if this is not otherwise guaranteed by relevant broadcast rights agreements.
The reforms will introduce coverage obligations on free-to-air broadcasters requiring them to show anti-siphoning events to the full extent of any rights they hold or to offer the unused rights to other broadcasters.
The reforms will also allow free-to-air broadcasters to premiere (or show exclusively) Tier B events on digital multichannels, and extend the period for when events are automatically removed from the anti-siphoning list from 12 to 26 weeks, although this may be extended by up to 52 weeks for the AFL and NRL Premierships.
An indicative future anti-siphoning list is provide here:
Such a list cannot be made until the legislative amendments have been passed by parliament and the provisions enabling the minister to make a list featuring two tiers have commenced.
For further information: