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khanjan 19-February-2010 17:54

Conroy battles TV networks over sports Communications Mini
 
Conroy battles TV networks over sports

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has sparked a battle with the big television networks by pushing to safeguard the rights of viewers to see major sporting events.
The federal government has flagged changes to anti-siphoning laws, saying there is a valid case to force a "use-it-or-lose it" policy on free-to-air stations.
Making his case, Senator Conroy said free-to-air television operators had bought sporting rights and then chosen not to broadcast them.
"That has led to an enormous backlash against commercial TV," he told ABC Radio on Friday.
"I think there is a very valid case to be made for a use-it-or-lose-it style provision."
Free TV Australia, the lobby group for the Seven, Nine and Ten networks, has disputed Senator Conroy's claims.
"There's no evidence of sports being acquired and not being used," chief executive Julie Flynn told AAP.
She cited an Australian Communications and Media Authority study of free-to-air sports broadcasts between 2005 and 2007.
But at the 2010 Australian Open in January, the Seven Network annoyed tennis viewers when it chose to screen the news, Today Tonight and Home and Away instead of the much-anticipated match between Australian Sam Stosur and top-seeded player Serena Williams.
Pay TV operators are pushing the government to relax the laws that prevent them from acquiring exclusive rights to listed sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup, AFL and NRL matches, rugby Tests and international cricket matches in which Australian teams are playing.
Senator Conroy says the government is "quietly talking" with sporting organisations, free-to-air broadcasters and subscription networks about the issue.
He would not reveal details of a conversation he had with billionaire businessman James Packer, whose company Consolidated Media Holdings owns 25 per cent of pay TV operator Foxtel, during a round of golf the pair played earlier in February.
But Ms Flynn described Senator Conroy as a "tough negotiator".


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