Fox Sports has won the ‘Channel of the Year’ award at this weeks ASTRA conference, and the sports broadcasters CEO Patrick Delany has used the occasion to again call for the scrapping of anti-syphoning legislation that restricts pay-tv broadcasters from bidding for a number of key sporting events.
Delany was particularly vocal in criticising Seven’s recent coverage of the Olympic games.
Fox Sports is prevented from bidding for Olympic Games broadcast rights due to the anti-syphoning legislation, meaning Seven was able to secure the Olympics for a lower price.
Seven then frustrated Foxtel further by developing its own 7Live app that required viewers to pay $19.95 to access premium Olympic coverage.
Delany told the conference that Seven had used a loophole in legislation to become a pay-tv provider:
“These (anti-syphoning) laws enabled something to happen that was never intended, the public was left hungry for the sport they wanted and deserved. That coverage was not a patch on what Nine and Foxtel did in 2012.
And why? Because the law gives a commercial free-to-air broadcaster the right to get in and buy an event first, which Seven did and they did it exclusively.
What the law does not say is anything about the Australian public, it does not make Seven show the Olympics live and free, and the Australian public experienced that.
The Australian public is losing out because the law corrupts the commercial process for sport.”
“There are 1800 sporting events available to our competitors but not to us. Don't be fooled into believing this law has any public purpose at its core.
Inside the law there is no guarantee those 1800 events will be free. No guarantee they will be live, no guarantee the matches bought by our competitors will be shown on TV.
All that is guaranteed is our competitors, digital or free to air, can do what we cannot. This distinction cannot be sustained much longer, consumers want what they want, when they want it, on the screen they want it.”
Delany went on to highlight the benefits he believes Fox Sports has contributed to Australian sport.
“Subscription TV powers sports in many ways. Over the last four years our investment in sport rights is the same investment as the federal government invested in sport, about $1.2 billion.
That means the government is able to fund sports that could not otherwise have had that money. Smaller and non-commercial sports like rowing and hockey.
Our investment in rights causes competition, which pushes the money from our free-to-air colleagues into sport rights and keep the cycle going.”
In accepting the award for Fox Sports 501, Delany paid tribute to the team that produce the channel.
“Fox Sports 501 represents the best of sports TV in Australia, fuelled by every game of NRL live and supported by an array of weekly entertainment shows. Ratings this year have exceeded projections, with our five exclusive games being 15% up year on year coupled with some amazing weekends of NRL action.”
“In 2017 we will be producing a dedicated 24/7 League channel with some new shows and a whole new look – with today's award for 501 providing the perfect platform to build on as we move forward into next year.”