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ASTRA has argued these channels provided "niche coverage of overseas events to a small number of highly devoted fans", and they would become unviable if advertising revenue dropped off. TV stations and the nation's major sporting codes had been attempting to secure permission to be able to broadcast gambling ads every two hours during so-called "long-form" sports events, such as the tennis or Test cricket, and multi-sports events like the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
But the codes of practice released on Friday show they have failed in this bid, with gambling advertising prohibited from 5am to 8. Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said he was pleased to see a close collaboration between industry and the Australian Communications and Media Authority ACMA , which will make a real difference to the community. Gambling reform campaigners have been calling for an outright ad ban during live sports broadcasts that went beyond 8. It 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.
They welcomed many of the changes announced on Friday, but remained concerned about the "carve-outs" for certain pay-TV sports channels, and were unhappy that advertising bans would not apply to sports broadcasts that were delayed by 90 minutes or more. Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Stephen Mayne said some components of the codes appeared open to interpretation.
The ban does not yet extend to online advertising, which will be tackled in a similar bill in federal parliament. This has aggravated Commercial Radio Australia chief Joan Warner, as she said it could see gambling advertising driven online and away from broadcasters "possibly for months" before the same rules are applied to digital platforms. Commercial free-to-air representative group Free TV chief executive Bridget Fair said it was "very important" that similar restrictions were put in place quickly for online players.
The live-sports gambling ad ban has been backed by the country's online corporate bookmakers, which said in a submission through lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia they recognised the public's concern about levels of gambling advertising, "particularly the volume of gambling advertising that is viewed by minors", and believed the reform was appropriate. With the rapid take-up of online sports betting in Australia, corporate wagering companies in recent years have become large contributors to sports revenue, which the ad ban could jeopardise.
Sporting codes have also raised concerns that restricting gambling advertising during live broadcasts would diminish the value of media rights. The ban will coincide with the second round of the AFL season and the fourth round of the NRL, and it will not apply to horse, harness and dog racing. Well, there's two ways of reading this: If you don't see this please check behind this window, and if it is still not there check your browser settings and turn off the pop-up blocker.
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