Free-to-air TV kicks off sports campaign - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Free-to-air TV kicks off sports campaign

27/09/2006 08:20:31 PM Comments (0)

A campaign to keep popular sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup, AFL and NRL competitions and the Australian Open on free-to-air TV kicks off on Wednesday night.

In a series of television advertisements, Free TV Australia (FTV) will urge sport lovers to voice their concerns over the attempted hijacking of sport by pay TV.

But the campaign has been labelled as "misleading" and "hollow" by a subscription TV industry body.

Australians watched 1,648 hours of sport on free TV last year, but people should not take it for granted that popular events, including Wimbledon and the V8 Supercars, will always be available for free, FTV chief executive Julie Flynn said.

She said pay TV networks and some major sporting bodies were waging a war on the anti-siphoning list of sporting events that could not be bought exclusively by pay TV.

"There is no doubt that what they want to do is force people to pay for sport they currently see for free," she said.

But the FTV commercials have been labelled as a hollow stunt by subscription TV industry body ASTRA.

"They are a misleading and desperate attempt by a group bent on covering up their abuse of sports television rights and their disregard for sports fans," ASTRA executive director Debra Richards said.

Pay TV networks were not out to hijack popular Australian sports, she said.

"All we are proposing is a use it or lose it scheme that aims to put more sport on television," Ms Richards said.

"The message to the (free-to-air television stations) is simple, show it or let others show it.

"More than 1,300 events are protected by the anti-siphoning list but last year 77 per cent of these were not shown on free TV."

The three major commercial networks, the Nine Network, Seven Network and Network Ten have thrown their support behind the FTV campaign with the commercials to air on the Seven Network on Wednesday night and other networks at the weekend.

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