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Anti-siphoning laws in Australian sport

We picked Australian XI's schoolyard style - who got it right? (Photo by Albert Perez - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

Anti-siphoning laws are designed to ensure free-to-air TV stations have broadcasting rights to certain major sports events in the Australian public’s interest.

The Broadcasting Services Act of 1992 gave FTA broadcasters the first opportunity to obtain rights for significant sporting events.

These events are determined and listed by the Federal Minister for Communications.

Subscription TV providers, such as Foxtel, are prohibited from obtaining rights to these competitions unless:

  • FTA channels have not secured the rights 12 weeks from the event
  • A commercial broadcaster is televising the event to more than half the Australian population
  • The rights are held by a national broadcaster (ABC or SBS)

National and commercial broadcasters are permitted to simulcast or repeat the events on their digital multi-channels, but only after they have been shown first on their flagship FTA channel.

The anti-siphoning laws do not ensure exclusive rights for FTA networks, nor oblige them to purchase or broadcast the rights for listed events.

All Wallabies Test matches are on the Minister's anti-siphoning list (Image. Tim Anger)

Anti-siphoning legislation is a uniquely Australian law enacted to make sure all members of the Australian public can access nationally significant sporting events regardless of their capacity to afford pay-TV subscriptions.

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While it generally has widespread public support, elements of the law have been criticised.

FTA networks have come under fire for showing listed events on delay or only to certain regions, as well as for the lack of high definition broadcasts.

Current list of anti-siphoning events

Olympic Games

Commonwealth Games

Horse Racing
– Melbourne Cup

The AFL Premiership Competition

Rugby League
NRL Premiership Competition
State of Origin
– Australian International Test matches
– Every Australian Rugby League World Cup match played in Australia, New Zealand or Papua New Guinea

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Rugby Union
– All Wallabies Test matches
– Every Rugby World Cup match

Cricket
– Each Test played in Australia
– Any Ashes Test match
– Cricket World Cup final if in Australia or New Zealand
– Australian matches in the Cricket World Cup
– Final of T20 World Cup
– Australian T20 World Cup matches if played in Australia or New Zealand

Football
– Every match of the FIFA World Cup involving Australia
Australian qualifying games for the FIFA World Cup
– FIFA World Cup final

Tennis
– Australian Open
– All Davis Cup matches involving Australia

Netball
– Semi-final and final of Netball World Cup if Australia are involved.

Motorsport
– Australian F1 Grand Prix
– Moto GP Australian Grand Prix
– Bathurst 1000