Off the Wall

Last Friday night Channel Nine took advantage of the double header at Suncorp Stadium to once again show the match of the night on "delay".

It did it for the Anzac Test - and it does it whenever it can.

I am no longer going to blame Nine for this.

The time has come for the ARLC to show some real leadership.

It needs to make it an absolute condition of the next television agreement - be it with Nine, Seven or Ten or whoever - that l"live" broadcasts must be just that.

The current wholly inadequate agreement would seem to contain any number of loopholes.

One of them would seem to be that the free to air broadcaster can decide whether if broadcasts the Friday might main game live, or put it on delay, allowing for more ad breaks to be included.

Given that the ARLC is now negotiating with Seven and Ten - having had to endure an appalling "exclusive negotiation" period with Nine and Fox - one would have thought Nine would have been careful not to upset fans, or the ARLC.

The fact it went ahead with another delayed broadcast is a worry. Is Nine so confident it will win the post 2012 rights that it can just treat the game, and fans, with contempt?

It can get away with it because it is clear the current agreement allows it to do so AND the federal government anti-siphoning laws are ineffectual.

There are several ways the ARLC can put an end to this outrage.

Firstly, it can made an absolute condition of the next agreement that  games declared for "live" broadcast are shown "live".

Secondly, it can lobby the federal government to tighten the laws so that if a game that is supposed to be shown live, pay or another provider can show it live.

Thirdly, the ARLC could do what the AFL has done and simulcast all its matches.

If Fox is allowed to show all games live, that will stop Nine, or any other free to air provider, from delaying the broadcast!

What happened on Friday night was hardly surprising.

But that does not make it right!

On a positive note with regard to the negotiations, the ARLC is to be applauded for putting a return to Saturday afternoon football back on the agenda.

We allow the AFL a total free kick when it comes to Saturday afternoon television coverage.

Should we continue doing so?

In my view we can to return to Saturday afternoon NRL matches.......and not just to match the AFL.

We need to "get the balance right" when it comes to the divide between night games and day time games.

The balance is not right at present - with generally six games being shown at "night" - from 5.30PM onwards  - each weekend.

The scheduling of Saturday afternoon matches would need to be done carefully. Some venues are more suited to afternoon football than others.

But it is at the very least worth considering.

And the fact it is back on the agenda is to be applauded.