The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) on Friday released the new industry code of practice, which effective March 30, prohibits gambling advertisements during all live sports broadcasts between the hours of 5am and 8.30pm on most television channels in the Land Down Under.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reports that the siren-to-siren ban on gambling ads during daytime live sports broadcasts, which will be in effect five minutes prior to play to five minutes post final play, is intended to reduce children’s exposure to them. However, several so-called “low audience” pay-sports TV channels such as Eurosports, ESPN and ESPN2, will reportedly be exempt and the ban will not apply to dog, horse and harness racing.
The channels said ASTRA, provide “niche coverage of overseas events to a small number of highly devoted fans”, and should advertising revenue drop off, they would become unviable. ASTRA board member and head of corporate affairs for Australian pay television company, Foxtel, Bruce Meagher, explained, “The principle is that the small channels would be disproportionately affected.” Adding that, “Very few children watch these channels.”
The exemptions, however, aren’t sitting well with gambling reform campaigners, such as Mark Zirnsak of the Victorian Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce, who want to ban all ads during live sports broadcasts that go well-beyond 8:30pm. Zirnsak said, “It certainly falls well short of the government’s promise that kids and families are going to be able to watch sporting events free from gambling advertising being rammed down their throats,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
In addition to the controversial carve-outs, the ban does not apply to online advertising and according to the news agency; it will be addressed in similar legislation in federal parliament.
Commercial Radio Australia Chief Joan Warner said she could see gambling advertising rerouted from broadcasters to the online genre “possibly for months” prior to the new industry code of practice being applied to digital platforms.
Bridget Fair, chief executive for commercial free-to-air representative group Free TV, said that it was “very important” that comparable restrictions were put in place without haste for online players.