Australian Government could slash gambling ads during TV sport

Business News

Fairfax Media is reporting that the move will appease anti-gambling independent Nick Xenophon whose vote the government will need to get its media reforms through the senate.

The issue of problem gambling, player gambling and online gambling advertising during NRL and AFL games has been an industry hot-potato for some time now. Despite concerns, even from TV bosses, online sports gambling ads – reported to be as much as $120 million a year – are a welcome injection to free-to-air’s coffers.

It follows last week’s lifetime ban of NRL Tim Simona who was caught placing bets on opposition players scoring in games he was playing in. While one in six ads shown during AFL games now are for betting companies.

Anti-gambling advocates also argue that sports bet advertising during live telecasts contravenes laws around children viewing such content.

However, the more exciting news is the prospect of real change to the media ownership laws passing the senate. The Communications Minister Mitch Fifield put his media package reforms to cabinet over a year ago and has been in regular consultation with Nick Xenophon over them. They are due to be debated in the senate in the coming weeks.

Changes will reportedly include relaxed media ownership laws, reduced license fees for the free-to-air players and forcing Facebook and Google to pay traditional media companies for using their content.

Fairfax is reporting that Seven, Nine and Ten could be open to losing their $120 million of gambling ads for a significant reduction – or possible abolition – to their license fees, which currently tally to a similar amount.

However, Fifield’s media ownership rules look set for a rocky passage through the senate, with both Labor and the Greens saying they will block them as they could lead to a lack of diversity, too few players and diminished content for rural areas.