Off the Wall

One has to hope that the new IC members - that is the IC we were supposed to have in place last year - are taking note of the numerous flaws in the current agreement with Channel Nine and its affiliates.

If they are then neither Nine, nor any other rights holder, can possibly expect the same conditions that exist in the current agreement - conditions that are weighted in favour of Nine to what is quite frankly an embarrassing degree.

We know that Nine effectively controls match scheduling because of its right to pick the top two games each weekend.

That must change. The AFL decides its match scheduling - even under the lucrative new deal that kicks in next year. It must be a non-negotiable condition.

In recent weeks we have seen a new, and troubling, flaw in the current agreement that is going to haunt us for the rest of this season.

We have become used to the annoying practice of Ray Warren and his team promoting other Channel Nine programmes, especially new releases.

Recently we had Nine using its highest rating programme of all - Origin Three - shamelessly promoting the Rugby World Cup, which it has the Australian rights to.

That is why Sonny Bill Williams was interviewed during the game - he will be in the All Blacks team in the World Cup.

The NRL/ARL as we now know, were powerless to do anything about it.

A phone call to "Gyng" (David Gyngell the boss of Nine) achieved nothing because there is apparently nothing in the current agreement to prevent cross-code promoting.

And did I read somewhere that a very senior Nine executive called Williams "the greatest code player in either code today".

Nine does extraordinarily well out of the NRL. Without State of Origin, the Grand Final, and the weekly premiership rounds, its would be absolutely languishing in the ratings.

It is frankly appalling that it is using its high rating NRL profile to promote another code and its World Cup, some matches of which will clash with NRL finals series matches, and also competing for media coverage at the same time.

Can you imagine Andrew Demetriou allowing the promotion of next year's State of Origin game in Melbourne during AFL broadcasts?

Another issue the IC will need to address is the practice of Nine not broadcasting every Friday night game "live".

When there are double headers - such as at Suncorp Stadium recently - it shows both games in delay, enhancing advertising time.

It has happened several times this season - despite the promise at the start of the agreement that we were, at long last, getting "Friday night live" football fullstop.

This whole issue is going to be the first test of the IC.

It is a test the IC cannot fail.

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