It’s a question that has gone unanswered for months, just why is the Federal Government giving taxpayer funding to a NewsCorp owned, subscription broadcaster.
The decision to award $30 million over four years to Fox Sports has caused significant anger in the community with both parties refusing to answer questions about the deal.
The Government description of the grant describes it as being to "support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television, including women's sports, niche sports, and sports with a high level of community involvement and participation".
However, it now appears clear Fox Sports demanded government compensation after the introduction of a gambling advertising ban. And used the threat of reducing its current investment in women’s sport coverage as leverage.
Under the changes, TV and Radio broadcasters are to be restricted from showing gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts before 8:30pm.
Advertising after 8:30pm, a timeslot typically dominated by male sports will be unaffected. Advertising for the racing industry and lotteries remains exempt for the new restriction.
It’s worth noting that the restriction only applies to ‘live’ sport, meaning Fox Sports will still be able to fill its ‘repeat’ broadcasts and panel programs with plenty of messages for Sportsbet and Bet365.
In addition to the $30 million in funding for Fox Sports, Foxtel was also able to secure changes to the anti-siphoning regime to reduce the size of the list of sports which Subscription Television is currently restricted from securing.
Free to Air broadcasters were also rewarded for accepting the gambling adverting ban with broadcasting licence fees and charges abolished. A decision expected to generate $130 Million in savings for Seven, Nine and Ten.
Speaking on ABC Radio yesterday, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield stated Fox Sports currently provides 70% of all women’s sport’s coverage in Australia and the Government was keen to ensure this was not reduced.
"We recognise that the free-to-air TV operators had the opportunity to offset some revenue losses against the licence fee reduction part of the package,"
"But we also recognise that subscription TV has a different operating environment. They don't pay licence fees and therefore they don't have the same offset opportunity.
"What we as a government didn't want to see happen was that the effects of a decision in one part of the package, such as the gambling ad restrictions, would be to the detriment of women's sport coverage on subscription TV."
DeciderTV has approached Fox Sports for comment but was informed the company would not comment "on anything that is speculative, in proposal or unconfirmed."