Communications Minister Mitch Fifield was expected to deliver his Australia betting ad ban proposal to the Senate in the coming weeks. As many experts and analysts pointed out, the political hierarchy of Parliament could create a jumbled mess of the pending legislation. So instead, Fifield is taking a more covert route to bypass the Senate altogether.
Since the Australia betting ad ban was first devised quite some time ago, sports broadcasting networks have been staunchly opposed. Many claimed they would not be able to stay afloat without the exorbitant amount of revenue they receive from the marketing departments of betting companies.
Networks argued that such a vast loss of revenue could only be made up by heavily reducing the licence fees they pay to broadcast live sports in the first place. Anti-gambling Senator Nick Xenophon was immediately on board with that plan, and apparently it lit up a bright bulb for Minister Fifield.
Now, according to local media, Fifield has no intention of delivering the Australia betting ad ban to the Senate. The Australian reported that he “plans to use self-regulation by media companies — which can be enforced by the media’s chief watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority — as his major tool in achieving the ban.”
Fifield Talk Concessions w/ Networks
Apparently Fifield has spent the last few days talking with broadcasters and sports administrators, briefing them on the plan and discussing affable concessions. The newspaper said he is expected to “brief corporate bookmakers” on the final form of the ban “in the next few days”.
It is believed that Minister Fifield has used private talks, kept quiet by non-disclosure forms, to strike a deal with broadcasters, and that those resolutions will be enacted via amendments to the networks’ code of practice.
The ban would fall under the regulation of the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA), which strictly regulates and mandates compliance of the broadcasters’ code of practice, including a 2013 law that already prohibits “live betting” ads.
Senate Too Unpredictable
Had Fifield gone the traditional route of pushing the Australia betting ad ban on the Senate, the results could have been disastrous. Not only is the Senate already divided on the topic of gambling reform, each Senator would have the option of pushing his or her own personal agenda by attaching unrelated measures to the bill before agreeing to a positive vote.
Gotta love politics, right?
Current Australia Betting Ad Ban
The Australian betting ad ban, in its most recent form revealed last week, will impose a network ban on all betting advertisements, starting 5 minutes prior to the start of a live sports broadcast, and ending 5 minutes after. It’s been speculated that the ban may be lifted after 8.30pm each evening ; considered to be ‘adult viewing time‘.
Broadcasters would surely be more likely to agree to concessions with an 8.30pm moratorium. They would still be granted the reduction in licence fees, while continuing to collect generous revenue from bookmaker advertisements for after-hours broadcasts.
A ‘senior regulatory source’ told The Australian, “It’s a sensible way to do it,” suggesting the Communication Minister would be wise to follow this course of action.
“They bring all the stakeholders along with them by agreeing a compromise — before the minor parties and the Senate start moving private member’s bills and causing all types of legislative uncertainty,” said the source.