Seven refused digital multi-channel reprieve

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Seven refused digital multi-channel reprieve

The Seven Network has revealed that it sought to multi-channel the Olympic Games but was not allowed.

In letters aired on the ABC’s Media Watch program last night, Seven spokesperson Simon Francis claimed the network would have ‘jumped head first into multi-channelling the Olympic Games’ if it was granted temporary relief from anti-siphoning laws.

The laws are designed to ensure that important sporting events such as the Olympic Games, AFL and rugby union test matches are shown on free-to-air, analogue channels first.

This effectively means the events can’t be shown on standard or high definition TV streams unless they appear simultaneously on the free analogue channel.

Seven faced criticism throughout the Games from viewers, who complained that the extra digital multi-channels they can now access did not offer additional streams of content.

“We sought some relief in the current broadcasting regulatory regime to allow multi-channelling for our coverage of the Olympic Games,” Francis revealed.

“Would we have jumped head first in multi-channelling the Olympic Games if we’d been allowed? Yes.”

Seven’s online property, Yahoo!7, also came under fire for only showing a single live content stream from the Games.

Other international broadcasters like CBC Canada enabled online viewers to choose from up to nine live streams.

“We see our partnership with Yahoo!7 as creating an online experience that complements our broadcast television business,” Francis responded.

“The site was not designed to be a television channel for the Olympic Games.”

Both the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, have earmarked a review of the current anti-siphoning arrangements.

“The capacity for free-to-air broadcasters to show anti-siphoning listed sports on their digital multi-channels is an issue that will be discussed in the 2009 review,” said Conroy.

Added Donald Robertson, media manager at ACMA: “The review is expected to take into account the changes brought about by emerging digital platforms.”
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