Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard laid down the hammer last week when she delivered an ultimatum to the country’s broadcasters to agree to a self-imposed ban on promotion of live betting odds during sports broadcasts. Failure to do so would mean that the government will rush legislation for a total ban on all gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts on TV, radio and online.
Gillard’s demands have forced the country’s broadcasters to agree with the plan because, according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, opposing it would only make it much worse for broadcasters who face the prospect of permanently losing out on advertising money from betting companies.
“In an advertising market which is currently failing, every bit of revenue is important to us as broadcasters,” Scott Briggs, Channel Nine’s head of regulatory affairs, said in a parliamentary committee back in March.
But even if broadcasters have seemingly been backed into a corner by the Prime Minister’s heavy-handed decision, Senator Conroy continues to fight for their cause, saying that the industry can ill afford to lose any more advertising money despite the government taking steps to cut in half licensing fees and give two free digital channels each.
Predictably, the senator’s position hasn’t won him fans from anti-gambling campaigners, a lot of whom can’t seem to understand why he’d go to great lengths to defend TV broadcasters and the advertising money they stand to get from betting companies. ”You don’t hear anyone saying the tobacco industry is doing it tough so let’s let them advertise,” Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce chairman Tim Costello said. “People are very clear, they’re saying we are sick of gambling ads being seen by our kids – not just live odds.”
Ironically, Gillard’s stance on the issue doesn’t completely solve what it deems as a problematic scene that exposes kids to gambling ads. No advertising of live betting odds, but broadcasters can still do it before and after the game. While that’s not the most ideal situation for TV broadcasters, it’s a lot better than being completely left out of any TV advertising money.
Ad market expert Steve Allen, managing director of Fusion Strategy, told Brim Bank Weekly that a crackdown of live odds would reduce gambling revenue for metropolitan networks from $40 million to $30 million. If you can’t beat ’em, you take any thing any way you can get ’em.