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Football rules punt Oz IPTV into touch

Minister will decide who gets to play with balls and when

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Australia's nacent IPTV industry won't be able to win business with the entertainment industry's time honoured practice of paying outrageous prices for exclusive rights to broadcast live sport, thanks to a new plan outlined yesterday by Minster for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy.

Australia operates an “anti-siphoning” regime that means free-to-air television stations have first right of refusal on a list of major sporting events. Only once those stations decline to bid may pay TV operators bid.

Senator Conroy yesterday introduced a new Bill to update that regime. The new proposal appears to make it nigh-on impossible for IPTV players to win rights to major sporting events ahead of free-to-air TV by putting them in the same class as pay TV operators.

“The Bill provides that a rights holder of a listed event must not confer exclusive rights to that event to a content service provider, such as a new media provider,” Conroy said in Parliament, adding that “ … new media providers are treated the same as subscription broadcasters, and are therefore able to acquire the rights … as long as this acquisition does not prevent free-to-air broadcasters from acquiring the rights ...”

Curiously, the Bill proposes to allow the Minister to decide which events appear on the list of events that must be shown on free-to-air television. Conroy is a fan of Collingwood Football Club, the team that everyone who is not a Collingwood supporter loves to hate. ®

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