Majority of Australians back digital free-to-air sports coverage

by Rod Campbell
(AAP Image/Steven Markham)


Australia Institute research has found a majority (56%) of Australians want free-to-air sports coverage to be available on the internet.

The anti-siphoning laws, Communications Legislation Amendment (Prominence and Anti-siphoning) Bill 2024, currently before Parliament give free-to-air broadcasters the first opportunity to acquire broadcast rights for sporting events such as the AFL and the Olympic Games, however are currently limited to aerial coverage only (i.e. does not cover broadcasters’ digital streaming services.)

Key Findings:

  • Majority of Australians (56%) support extending anti-siphoning laws to cover digital rights as well as aerial rights, with one in five (21%) Australians voicing strong support for extending the laws (only 12% oppose).
  • Sports currently on the anti-siphoning list include the AFL, the Melbourne Cup and Australian Open, Test cricket, and the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

“Sport plays an important role in Australia’s social fabric, and it’s clear Australia’s anti-siphoning laws need to be updated to keep pace with modern viewing habits,” said Rod Campbell, Research Director at the Australia Institute.

“Given the rise of digital streaming, Australians rightly expect free-to-air sport to be available in the manner which they consume it. It is nonsensical in this day and age to differentiate between free-to-air television broadcast via aerial and free-to-air television broadcast by digital app.

“Australia’s free-to-air broadcast channels provide a valuable contribution to news and culture in this nation and it is vital that policymakers take measures to safeguard the diversity and long-term health of our free-to-air media.”

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