In Australia, advocates of instituting a proposed ‘siren-to-siren’ federal ban on the transmission of betting advertisements during live sporting matches have reportedly criticized some of the nation’s leading television and radio broadcasters for attempting to secure a slew of exemptions.
According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the past week has seen Commercial Radio Australia, Free TV Australia and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association submit new draft codes of practice as part of an ongoing consultation with the administration of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on new broadcasting regulations.
Although gambling opponents have purportedly called for the broadcast of ‘all gambling promotions’ to be barred during ‘all live sports broadcasts’ taking place between 5am and 8.30pm, the newspaper reported that the broadcasters have responded by proposing a complete exclusion for longer-form sports such as golf, tennis and cricket alongside multi-sport events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the broadcasters moreover suggested exempting ‘lottery-betting companies’ such as Lottoland Limited from any new advertising ban while continuing to allow wagering providers to feature in sponsorship statements such as ‘This event was brought to you by…’.
The newspaper reported that the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association additionally proposed exempting ‘low-audience’ subscription television services such as Eurosports and ESPN from the advertising ban because these provide ‘niche coverage of overseas events to a small number of highly devoted fans’.
In response to the release of the broadcasters’ draft codes of practice, numerous local online sportsbetting providers including Betfair, CrownBet and Sportsbet reportedly objected through their Responsible Wagering Australia lobby group by stating that they recognized the Australian public’s current concerns over the proliferation of gambling advertising, ‘particularly the volume of gambling advertising that is viewed by minors’.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Financial Counselling Australia, which serves as the peak body for the nation’s financial counselors, also balked at the proposed exemptions by explaining that it would prefer an outright ban on all gambling advertisements. It moreover purportedly explained that permitting the wished-for exceptions would only serve to undermine the government’s plan to ‘establish a clear and practical ‘safe zone’ on any platform for children watching or listening to sport’.
“What shocked me is that these bodies governing television and radio are actually using this as an opportunity to water down the code,” Mark Zirnsak from the Victorian Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce reportedly told the newspaper. “Rather than doing what the government announced, they are trying to be sneaky and not fully implementing what people expect, which is to be able to watch sport without having to watch gambling ads.”
For its part, the Turnbull administration reportedly told the newspaper that it would seek ‘further discussions’ with the broadcasters and felt that lottery-betting providers should be ‘subject to the same advertising restrictions as apply to sportsbetting’.
“The government has been clear that gambling promotional material should not be broadcast during a long-form live sports event during the hours of 5am to 8.30pm,” a spokesperson for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield reportedly told The Sydney Morning Herald.
However, the newspaper reported that the government may face stiff resistance to an all-out ban during the wished-for hours as Australian television broadcasters have become increasingly reliant on advertising cash from gambling providers and last year took in some $115.4 million, which represented a rise of 19% year-on-year.