Australian media groups are keeping their fingers crossed that the government will listen to their request for some exemptions to the siren-to-siren ban on betting ads.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Free TV Australia (FTA), Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) have sought changes to the recently implemented policy aimed at reducing children’s exposure to betting ads.
In its draft code, ASTRA proposes that “low audience” subscription TV channels – like ESPN, ESPN2, and Eurosports – should be allowed to continue airing gambling ads during live sports coverages, since these channels serve only “a small number of highly devoted fans.”
FTA, meanwhile, vowed to “strike the right balance” between protecting children from gambling and upholding the rights of Australians to access live sports broadcasts for free.
While it seeks changes to the gambling ad ban, CRA maintains that the radio industry is serious in ensuring that commercial radio content is aligned with the government’s policy.
Under Australia’s ad ban, television and radio stations are banned from airing gambling promotions during “all live sports broadcasts” between 5:00 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. This takes effect within five minutes before the start of play to five minutes after the game ended.
Anti-gambling advocates and the gambling industry, however, warned the ban will be watered down if the government gives in to the slew of controversial exemptions that the broadcast media is demanding.
The online bookmakers-backed lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) warned that the exemptions will pave the way for the airing of at least one gambling ad every two hours during “long-form” sports event, such as cricket. The group is also concerned that the exemptions will exclude lottery companies like Lottoland from the ban.
RWA also raised concern that broadcasters would be able to mention gambling operators in sponsorship statements should the exemptions be granted.
Data showed that the gambling industry spent nearly AUD150 million (US$115 million) on advertisements in 2016. In April, television networks warned that popular Australian sporting codes may no longer be broadcast on free-to-air television as result of the gambling ad.