Senator Xenophon labels Free TV Aus proposal 'half-hearted'

A PROPOSAL by Free TV Australia to ban the promotion of live betting odds during sports broadcasts is weak and a "slap in the face" for Australian sporting fans, anti-gambling campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon says.

Under proposed amendments to the commercial television code of practice, released on Monday, "commentators" would be banned from spruiking live odds at any time during a sports broadcast, including 30 minutes before and after play.

Free TV, the peak industry body for Australia's free-to-air networks, defines a commentator as: "A person who is a host, guest or otherwise participating in a Live Sporting Event and includes a person calling, or providing analysis on, the sporting event or game.

"It does not include discrete and distinguishable contributors, including clearly identified representatives of gambling organisations," the code's definition for commentator reads.

Bookmakers would still be allowed to spruik live odds during "scheduled breaks" - for example, in between quarters or halves in football and tea and lunch in cricket; unscheduled breaks, like rain delays, or; once a game has ended.

These appearances would need to be "clearly identified sponsorship segments", the Free TV proposal reads.
The changes would not apply to horse, harness or greyhound racing.

Free TV said in a statement the changes were designed to "reduce and control the promotion of live odds during the broadcast of live sporting events".

"The proposed amendments to the code reflect an agreement reached between the government and commercial radio, commercial television and subscription broadcasters to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during the broadcast of sporting events," Free TV said.

But Senator Xenophon was less than impressed, describing the proposal as "half-hearted".

"Tom Waterhouse will be laughing all the way to the bank and to the commentary box," Senator Xenophon said.

"These weak amendments are a slap in the face to the millions of sports fans who simply want to watch their team without getting offers to punt shoved down their throat."

Senator Xenophon said the proposed amendments also failed to limit the amount of gambling advertising appearing during breaks in play.

He again called on the Federal Government to support legislation he introduced in 2011 to crack down on gambling advertising during sports broadcasts.

If adopted the amendments would not apply to any commercial deals struck before May 27, 2011.

People have until May 20 to comment on the proposed amendments.


>> Click here to view the amendments