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The Anti-Siphoning Laws Essay

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Updated: Feb 6th, 2022

Introduction

Over time, the professional sport developed into a highly marketable asset that has an outstanding value in terms of monetary and social impact on the community. Many people across the globe consider sports events to be sociocultural activities that have to be appreciated irrespective of form and content. All kinds of mass media – especially television – have contributed to the existing shape of sporting events because broadcasting is one of the ways for all people across the globe to root for their favourite teams and find out the latest sports-related news as soon as possible (Reddin, 2017). Overall, it may be hypothesised that there is a synergy nowadays that links broadcasters and sports organisations together, which allows every stakeholder involved to satisfy their commercial interests. The presence of sports-media-business methodology makes it evident that there is much more behind sports broadcasting than just fan service and monetary benefits.

The partnership established among professional athletes, sponsors, media conglomerates, and sporting event organisers makes it easier for television representatives to establish the right way of covering the biggest events for enormous numbers of people (Landrigan, 2006). The presence of free-to-air television has mitigated the challenges of the past related to broadcasting rights and quality, allowing more people to access live streams of their favourite sports. Irrespective of whether it was promoted by public or national commercial networks, it still represented cultural citizenship and an improved sense of national identity among people. In the case of Australia, the advent of free-to-air television and the so-called anti-siphoning laws became the main reasons for the advent of accessible broadcasting (Wilding, 2016). Despite the incredibly high level of commercialization, Australian sports propagation favours free-to-air television, so that as many viewers as possible would be able to watch specific events.

The Rationale behind Anti-Siphoning Laws

The whole idea behind passing the anti-siphoning laws was to defend the broadcast rights and provide viewers without paid TV subscriptions with an opportunity to access live broadcasts. For Australia, the application of a general competition law seemed to be inappropriate from the start (Goldsmith, 2015). This was one of the main reasons why the distinct economic characteristics came into play when the government decided to deploy the anti-siphoning laws. The utmost rationale for the advent of anti-siphoning legislation was the growing strength of communication between individual teams that have to cooperate by default in order to establish a decent business platform for sporting events organisers, franchise owners, etc. (Nicholson et al., 2015). Another crucial element of the proposed law was that sports should be as attractive to fans as possible, even when the outcomes of monetary investments and the potential number of viewers cannot be predicted.

Based on the existing view of sporting events in Australia (or even across the globe), the complete competitive business of major sports leagues would go absent without a long-term interest in collaboration. This is why free-to-air television became a reality and averted many individual teams from selling unique broadcasting rights to their games (Rowe et al., 2016). Not only this approach to sporting events removed the majority of income discrepancies but also made it possible for many organisations to maintain their popularity without additional marketing and merchandise expenditures due to continuous exposure to the attention coming from fans and inadvertent viewers. The passing of the anti-siphoning laws established the beginning of a new era of broadcasting across Australia because it promoted shared broadcasting rights and collective selling (Scott et al., 2019). This pro-competitive nature of the new laws made it possible for many teams to remain relevant even without having to spend resources on marketing and exclusive deals.

Pros and Cons of Anti-Siphoning Laws

The Negative Impact of Anti-Siphoning Laws

One of the key reasons why certain individuals and organisation oppose the passing of the anti-siphoning laws is the default commitment to the ideology of the free market. The core of this philosophy is that the interests of an individual team, club, or organisation should be placed above the aspirations of potential viewers and sports fans (Rowe, 2013). This approach to increasing revenue favours the utilisation of paid TV subscriptions and ignores the benefits of free-to-air television. The commercial basis of corporate strategies makes it harder for certain teams to side with the concept of anti-siphoning laws, as they cannot gain as much sponsorship revenue as with pay-to-view subscriptions. Even though the radius of exposure is much longer with free-to-air television, there are organisations that overlook its benefits in the favour of commercial success (Rowe, 2016). There is an argument stemming from the pay-to-view methodology that suggests that policymakers that had passed the anti-siphoning laws had no idea in regard to how the best interests of particular sports could be promoted.

Another reason why anti-siphoning laws were majorly disregarded by some of the sports organisations was that the concept of cultural citizenship interfered with the process of appealing to the public and increasing the potential revenue of all stakeholders involved. In that case, the free-to-air television representatives were viewed as the central antagonists who decided to conquer the broadcasting medium and severely transform the major sporting events and how those might be presented to the viewers (McCosker & Dodd, 2013). Therefore, the anti-siphoning laws became a source of frustration for income-focused organisations that fought for their property rights and tried to appeal to the public interest and state regulations. On a bigger scale, it means that the most negative impact linked to anti-siphoning laws related to how the government decided to promote cultural citizenship and promote collaboration within a highly competitive environment.

The Advantages of Anti-Siphoning Laws

The presence of free-market advocates has made it possible for the government to overcome the abundance of pay-TV broadcasters and develop an essential list of sporting events that are regulated by the anti-siphoning laws. Even though there is a claim that the number of events covered by the latter is too big, the existing situation shows that there are enough clear criteria for the broadcasters who are willing to cover major events (Goldsmith, 2015). The situation in Australia is different, for example, from how the EU copes with the reliability of their legislation. Nevertheless, the passing of the anti-siphoning law has paved the way for additional indicators of the importance of certain events for the society. The competitive environment of sports business makes it essential for broadcasters to reach out to as many potential viewers as possible and attain exclusive rights without additional expenditures (Rowe et al., 2016). Ultimately, this was one of the reasons why and how the free-to-air television appeared and created room for the anti-siphoning laws across Australia.

Another important element of the anti-siphoning laws is that they help the government to promote cultural citizenship while translating the previous paid subscriptions into free broadcasting available to the majority of viewers (Wilding, 2016). With the concept of equity being so important for the government, the latter justified the passing of the anti-siphoning laws via the interests of the general public. Australian citizens believed the free-to-air television to be much more appealing due to the increasing concerns regarding paid subscriptions and the growing hunger of broadcasting companies. The increasing cost of subscriptions practically forced the government to deploy the anti-siphoning laws and establish improved collaboration within the broadcasting sector (Landrigan, 2006). It was owing to the legislation that the Australian government managed to close the gap between social classes and get rid of the long-standing disparities that were characteristic of the low- and high-income groups, respectively.

The ultimate benefit characteristic of the anti-siphoning laws that shall not be ignored is the generation of additional incomes via the positive network externalities. The latter stands for the fact of appealing to the viewers to an extent where they donate money and support their favourite teams and broadcasters (McCosker & Dodd, 2013). The free-to-air methodology simplified the conversation between viewers and presenters and increased the systemic value of community within the business scheme of sports broadcasting. The significance of this concept relates to how the legislation was met at first and how almost no viewers went against it. The overall success of the anti-siphoning laws may be subject to the shared benefits that became available to viewers, organisers, and owners (Reddin, 2017). The increased number of responsibilities brought more discipline into the area of sports broadcasting and allowed more companies to engage in the competitive environment and gain more advantages without having to spend an extensive amount of resources for marketing and advertising purposes.

The Rationale behind Changes Introduced by the Federal Government in 2017

The amendments that were introduced by the government in 2017 focused on the review of the anti-siphoning approach to broadcasting. The extension of the delisting period (from 12 to 26 weeks total) proposed by the government was associated with the idea of giving broadcasters more freedom in terms of how and when they would like to purchase the rights to events (Scott et al., 2019). The improved recognition and contract-signing commencement influenced the free-to-air broadcasters and established a competitive environment where broadcasters were expected to collaborate and share ideas instead of focusing on mere incomes and fighting for potential viewers. The revision of the anti-siphoning legislation allowed the free-to-air representatives to premier events as well. Digital multi-channels owned by these representatives would be later considered the essential reflection of the general audience (Scott et al., 2019). The benefits of free-to-air broadcasting over its commercial pay-TV alternatives has made it possible to improve the public appeal and move away from expensive subscriptions.

Conclusion

The current media environment in Australia makes it possible for the public to evade direct payments and benefit from the free-to-air initiatives promoted by the government. Despite only being common for Australia, the anti-siphoning legislation seems to be a relevant solution to the problem of direct payments becoming more and more popular worldwide. The need for a stricter regulatory intervention turns out to be more evident as well because the cultural citizenship (based on the Australian example) might only be achieved under the condition where there is a collaborative environment. Free-to-air coverage is a great way to attain and maintain equality and prevent society from class-based division in the future. The anti-siphoning laws proposed by the Australian government should be considered the first step on the way to a much more accessible television and greater coverage of major sporting events that had been exclusively available on the basis of a paid subscription in the past.

Accordingly, Australia may be seen as an example of a country where a stronger regulation has led to positive improvements and created an enhanced medium for the broadcasters. The first reason why it became so successful is the presence of additional priority rights given to free-to-air organisations that prevent the pay-TV representatives from gaining exclusive rights to sporting events broadcasts. The second reason is a rather large list of sporting events available for broadcast to free-to-air organisations. Therefore, the competition for sports rights in Australia is not as strong as in other countries across the globe due to the anti-siphoning law that mediates the relationships between broadcasters, organisers, and viewers.

Despite the challenges that influence the anti-siphoning legislation in Australia, the government was able to demonstrate the value of free-to-air television and appeal to potential viewers via the perspective of donations. With a clear set of criteria defining the existing television and sports broadcasting, the government also gave itself a chance to adopt an equality-based approach to service provision. The changes that came with the 2017 revisions deployed by the federal government allowed Australian broadcasters to increase the number of general events that could be covered by free-to-air organisations and improve the collaborative abilities of Australian sports teams. The current positive expectations associated with the new anti-siphoning policy are focused on the idea of restructuring the sports rights market and providing more stakeholders with the opportunity to affect what and how is broadcasted.

References

Goldsmith, B. (2015). Sport and the transformation of Australian television. Media International Australia, 155(1), 70-79.

Landrigan, M. (2006). Competition for content: Pay TV and the anti-siphoning laws. Competition and Consumer Law Journal, 13, 266-284.

McCosker, A., & Dodd, A. (2013). The future of sports delivery in Australia. Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, 1(1), 1-16.

Nicholson, M., Kerr, A., & Sherwood, M. (2015). Sport and the media: Managing the nexus. Routledge.

Reddin, E. (2017). Cultural citizenship, social utility, and positive network externalities: The role of anti-siphoning legislation. PLATFORM: Journal of Media & Communication, 8(2), 53-67.

Rowe, D. (2013). “Events of national importance and cultural significance”. Sport, Public Broadcasting, and Cultural Citizenship: Signal Lost, 166, 331-372.

Rowe, D. (2016). ‘Great markers of culture’: The Australian sport field. Media International Australia, 158(1), 26-36.

Rowe, D., Noble, G., Bennett, T., & Kelly, M. (2016). Transforming cultures? From creative nation to creative Australia. Media International Australia, 158(1), 6-16.

Scott, O., Billings, A., Xu, Q., Sharpe, S., & Lewis, M. (2019). Relaying Rio through an Australian gaze: Australian nationalistic broadcast focus in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Communication & Sport, 7(2), 198-220.

Wilding, D. (2016). Media law: Media reform: The next wave. LSJ: Law Society of NSW Journal, (22), 76-77.

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