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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the antisiphoning list?
The anti-siphoning list is a list of major sporting events that the Parliament of Australia has decided must be available for all Australians to see free of charge and cannot be “siphoned” off to pay TV where people are forced to pay to see them.

Wouldn’t there be more coverage of my favourite sport if it was not on the list?
No. The current system ensures that the best games are available to all Australians for free with complementary and more detailed coverage available for those people who choose to pay to watch television.

Does the anti-siphoning list mean I can't watch these sports on pay television?
No. Pay TV already provides extensive coverage of listed sports. For instance it boasts that it shows “every game of every round” of NRL and AFL. It also provides additional coverage of events such as Wimbledon and the Australian Open tennis tournaments. Free-to-air broadcasters are able to negotiate rights to key matches and everything else is available to pay TV. Pay TV is also able to show the free-to-air games/matches on delay.

How much would it cost to watch these sports on pay television?
The cheapest pay TV package including sport channels costs more than $600 a year and doesn’t include any HD sports broadcasts. A pay TV package including HD sport will set you back more than $900 a year. On Free TV, all sports, including High Definition broadcasts, are free-to-view.

Aren't there 1300 events on the anti-siphoning list?
There are 10 sports plus the Commonwealth and Olympic Games on the list. When pay TV says there are over 1300 events on the list and free-to-air broadcasters only show you a fraction of them, what they don’t say is that 838 of these ‘events’ are made up of matches in the Wimbledon and Australian Open tennis tournaments.  AFL and NRL make up a further 183, and motor sports another 38 giving a total of 1257 ‘events’.

Do other countries have an anti-siphoning list?
Yes. Some other countries do have an anti-siphoning list. The UK introduced a list after the national football games were siphoned to pay TV. A few years ago the English and Wales Cricket Board asked to be removed from the list after giving an undertaking to the Government that they would always have free-to-air coverage.  But the very next rights package they negotiated was an exclusive pay TV deal. This means that when the Ashes cricket series is on, for instance, UK audiences will be forced to pay to watch their national team.

What is the “use it or lose it” scheme?
The previous Federal Government introduced the concept of “use it or lose it” rules for sports on the anti-siphoning list in 2007 to ensure that broadcasters are showing the events they acquire and that listed sports are not being “hoarded”.  Hoarding occurs when rights to an event are acquired by a free-to-air broadcaster and are not shown or passed on to another broadcaster or pay TV operator. Independent monitoring of the scheme by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found free-to-air broadcasters were not hoarding any sporting events.

Use it or lose it sounds simple enough – how could it hurt viewers?
Like most things that sound too good to be true, "use it or lose" is more complicated than it sounds. For example, the pay TV industry has argued for rules that all sports be shown nationally to at least 50 per cent of the population.  However, AFL coverage would fail this test because free-to-air broadcasters show different, local team games into each market so that people can support their home side. Showing local games in different markets means it's unlikely that any game would reach 50 per cent of the population

The pay TV industry has also said that the test should consider how much of the event is shown on free-to-air television.  What they are not saying is that most of the rights that are used by free-to-airs are already available to pay TV. That means that under their test, an event  that was already being shown on both free-to-air and pay TV could be taken off the anti-siphoning list because it wasn't being "fully used" by free-to-air broadcasters - even though the so-called "unused" rights were already available to, or shown on, pay TV.

Rather than increasing coverage, this test would see sports being delisted and moving exclusively to pay TV, leaving viewers to pay to watch something that they were getting for free.