Off the Wall

The federal government, at long last, has tabled its new anti-syphoning measures that will have an enormous impact on the television coverage of rugby league.

The key aspect of the new measures is that the Minister for Communications will have the ultimate say on which NRL and AFL matches must be shown on free to air television. It will also apply to other codes and sport generally. There is already a debate about whether a politician should make such decisions.

The Minister already decides which events must be shown on free to air - such as state of origin, grand finals etc. Now he is to effectively be given the ultimate power to decide which actual matches are on free to air each week.

Just how that would be done is indeed a fascinating question.

It would seem there will be detailed regulations to determine which are the "best" NRL and AFL games. How can that possibly be decided six weeks or more in advance?

I suspect it is there more as a "threat" than an actual process that will see Stephen Conroy scrutinising the "form" to see which AFL and NRL matches must be shown on free to air - especially as he is a soccer tragic as I recall.

What will happen is that guidelines will be laid down to ensure that as far as possible the "best" games each weekend are on free to air....and that the Minister will have the right to over-rule the NRL or the AFL when he believes the allocations are inconsistent with the regulations.

Complicated? Surely!

There are other changes that I will look at and comment on later.

The one aspect I will be looking at will be whether the "use it or lose it" provision relating to not showing matches live on free to air.

I fear I will be disappointed!