Off The Wall

- By Jeff Wall.
I am sorry my first column for the 2014 season has to be a negative one - but less than 24 hours into the season i feel let down and cheated already!
The season opened with the Roosters playing the Rabbitohs, traditional rivals.
In Queensland both have strong support - not as much as the Dragons, or perhaps even the Storm or Bulldogs. But both have a good support base - much of it based on the stellar contribution both clubs have made to the game, and not just since the competition went national.
That is why I found the decision by Channel Nine not to broadcast the game live into Queensland totally bewildering.
The excuse was daylight saving - the same excuse they trot out year in year out.
The match did not kick off until 7pm Queensland time - so Nine could have switched straight from the hour long news bulletin and take in the live telecast.
But no, Queensland viewers had to put up with yet another boring half hour of A Current Affair - which as per usual focussed on how to cut power bills and exposing dodgy real estate agents!
Why does Nine constantly treat its loyal rugby league base with contempt?
The answer is simple - it can get away with it. It has no free to air rival, and its skirts around the rules on live broadcasts on free to air television.
Interestingly, it did not pull the same stunt in the cricket season, because for the first time it had a free to air rival - Channel 10 which grabbed the Big Bash rights off Fox Sports. And the Big Bash pulled in extraordinary numbers because it was shown live, and went from alpha to omega in around two hours.
Nine switched the cricket - especially during the Perth test and during the one day matches to Gem while the news was on.
It did it because it had a competitor in the cricket market place.
It has no competitor on free to air in the rugby league market.
Tonight Nine will be showing the Broncos v Bulldogs game live - because it believes the Queensland market is all Broncos.
If it can do it tonight, why couldn't it do it last night?
Fortunately, ABC radio broadcast the game live into Queensland, Thank you Craig Norenbergs and the ABC Grandstand team!
I have given up complaining to Nine, or the NRL.
I am this time going to drop a line to the Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.......who happens to be a Roosters supporter.
I am urging him to end the loophole that allows broadcasts like last night's to avoid the provisions of the "use it or lose it" rules regarding major sporting events.
If Nine won't show it live into Queensland, or into NSW if the circumstance ever arose, then it should lose the exclusive broadcast right.
And perhaps Malcolm might tell the NRL, and the AFL for that matter, to include such a provision in their next television rights contracts?
Fortunately, Nine's greed may well be short lived, and may well have backfired already - given the number of fans who can now watch matches live using the growing apps and interactive mediums the NRL is making available.
But the principal remains unaltered.
We are in for a great season - what a pity Nine sullied that for a substantial part of the rugby league family!

I will let readers know how the Communication Minister responds!