The anti-siphoning scheme prevents pay television broadcasters from buying the rights to events on the anti-siphoning list before free-to-air broadcasters have the opportunity to purchase the rights. The anti-siphoning list includes events the minister believes should be made available free to the general public.
Inclusion on the anti-siphoning list does not guarantee a particular event will be shown on free-to-air television because free-to-air broadcasters are not required to buy the rights to events on the list. Even if they do acquire such rights, they are not currently required to use them or, when they do, to show an event live or within a specified timeframe.
Free-to-air broadcasters are also currently prevented from premiering (or exclusively showing) an event on the anti-siphoning list on their digital multichannels.
Pay television broadcasters can acquire the right to televise an anti-siphoning event if a national broadcaster or commercial television broadcasters that cover more than 50 percent of the Australian population have the right to televise the event, or if the event has been automatically delisted. Automatic delisting refers to the removal of events on the anti-siphoning list 12 weeks before they commence. The minister can override the automatic removal of an event from the list if satisfied that a free-to-air broadcaster has not had a reasonable opportunity to acquire the rights to that particular event.
The minister can also choose to add or remove events from the anti-siphoning list at any time. As the anti-siphoning list is made via a legislative instrument, any changes to the list involve the making of another legislative instrument.
In 2012, the government proposed a series of reforms to the anti-siphoning scheme, which were referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The committee conducted hearings in relation to these reforms on 13 April 2012 and reported on 4 May 2012..