Senate debates

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Anti-Siphoning) Bill 2010

Second Reading

3:44 pm

Photo of Bob BrownBob Brown (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum and have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The anti-siphoning regime is the reason that Australian viewers can continue to enjoy free access to televised coverage of the present range of significant sporting events. Without it, some of the sporting events we have become accustomed to viewing for free would inevitably migrate to subscription television, where they can only be enjoyed by some 30% of the population. We have seen this occur in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom where live test cricket has not screened on free-to-air television since 2005.

The Australian Greens are committed to ensuring that this does not occur in Australia. We will not support changes to the anti-siphoning regime that result in reduced viewer access to significant sporting events. At the same time, we accept that it is in no one's interest for the scheme to permit broadcasters to purchase the rights to events on the anti-siphoning list and then not show them.

With the current anti-siphoning list due to expire at the end of 2010, and only a few Parliamentary sitting days remaining in the year, the immediate risk is that the anti-siphoning list will lapse or be replaced without the Parliament having the opportunity to explore such arguments. The list may expire before a replacement has been released, or the Government may release a replacement list out of sitting. Either scenario may result in significant sporting events being removed from the list and the rights to broadcast them purchased by subscription television before the Parliament has the opportunity to exercise its prerogative to intervene.

The present bill is a stopgap measure to prevent either of these situations from arising. It does two simple things: it removes the expiry date on the current list, and it provides that a replacement list will not take effect until six sitting days after it has been tabled in Parliament. Removal of the expiry date ensures that the current list will not expire at the end of the year, potentially resulting in a free-for-all on broadcasting rights for sporting events if no replacement list has been released by the Minister for Communications. Delaying the commencement of any new list ensures that the Parliament is not put in the difficult position of potentially disallowing a new list after it has operated throughout the Parliamentary break, during which time deals may have been concluded on the basis of the new list.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.


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