Foxtel is pushing for exemptions to the government’s upcoming gambling-ad ban, because some of its channels have “very small audiences”.
Last year, the government promised to ban TV sports betting ads during children’s viewing hours to, “provide a clear and practical zone for families and children to watch live sports”.
The reforms, which would ban gambling ads during live sporting events between 5.00am and 8.30pm, are due to take effect from next month.
But anti-gambling campaigners say the laws are in danger of being watered down, as the subscription TV industry drafts its code of practice.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said parents would be “shocked” to know the laws may only apply in full to free-to-air TV.
“Hey presto! If you’ve got Foxtel, they’re still going to be ramming these ads down the throats of your kids” Senator Hanson-Young told ABC radio.
“Either gambling ads during live sports is wrong, or it’s not.”
A spokesperson for ASTRA, the pay-TV industry’s peak body, said: “The exemption encompasses channels, including beIN, ESPN and Eurosport that provide niche coverage of overseas events to very small audiences in contrast to the mass appeal broadcasts of the major Australian football codes on free-to-air TV, which attract much larger audiences.”
ASTRA, the pay-TV industry’s peak body, is also seeking to set time restrictions to clocks in the Eastern States, because it only sends out one TV signal for all states simultaneously.
“[That] would mean that viewers in Western Australia, including children, could be subjected to saturation gambling advertising from 5.30pm onwards and viewers in South Australia including children will be subjected to saturation gambling advertising after 8.00pm,” said Kelvin Thomson from the Alliance for Gambling reform.
The Subscription TV and Commercial TV industries are drafting their own provisions to their codes of conduct, to comply with the new laws, with oversight from the government.
A spokesperson for the Communications Minister said: “The government expects the industry to make the required changes voluntarily through a normal amendment process with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).”