Recall that Foxtel in July received $10 million from taxpayers to televise “women’s, niche and other under-represented sports”.
This $10 million subsidy came on top of $30 million already provided by taxpayers to Foxtel in 2017.
It also came at the same time as the Morrison Government slashed funding to the ABC by $84 million.
To add further insult to injury, the $10 million Foxtel funding was fast-tracked through Cabinet and broke the normal “10 Day Rule” intended to give ministers time to assess proposals.
With this background in mind, it is disturbing the read that the ABC has been forced to pay Foxtel for rights to broadcast women’s soccer, specifically matches featuring Australia’s national team, the Matildas.
This means that Australian taxpayers have effectively paid for this coverage twice, given the federal government’s $10 million grant to Foxtel over three years to cover “women’s, niche and other under-represented sports”:
ABC managing director David Anderson confirmed in a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament on Wednesday that the public broadcaster had paid Foxtel for the rights to broadcast international women’s soccer matches featuring the Matildas, in effect charging taxpayers twice for access to that coverage.
Mr Anderson told Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young that unlike Foxtel in this recent instance, the public broadcaster does not receive specific funding allocations for showcasing women’s sport…
“Let me just get clear, the federal government has provided money to Foxtel to provide coverage of womens sport, which the ABC then has to go to Foxtel to pay for?” Ms Hanson-Young said.
“Certainly for the international matches yes,” Mr Anderson said.
“That’s ridiculous,” Ms Hanson-Young said.
I have no issue in principle with subsidising the coverage of “underrepresented” sports. But why provide subsidies to a private company that locks coverage behind a subscription paywall?
Public access to these sports would clearly be improved by providing such subsidies to free-to-air networks that have no barriers to watch.
This is clearly another case of ‘money for mates’ by the Coalition. Always follow the money.