The anti-siphoning scheme aims to give free-to-air broadcasters a chance to show major events included on an anti-siphoning list.

The scheme stops 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.

Free-to-air broadcasters don’t have to buy the rights to events on the list. Even if they do buy the rights, they don’t have to use them: they could broadcast the event later or not at all. If they do buy the rights, free-to-air broadcasters can’t premier (or exclusively show) it on their digital multichannels.

An event is automatically removed from the anti-siphoning list if no one has bought the rights 26 weeks before the event is due to start.

The Minister’s powers

The minister can override automatic delisting if satisfied that a free-to-air broadcaster has not had a reasonable chance to buy the rights.

The minister can also choose to add or remove events from the anti-siphoning list at any time. The list is a legislative instrument made under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. This means the list can be changed only with another legislative instrument.

Pay TV operators

Pay TV can televise an event if:

  • the event is automatically removed from the anti-siphoning list
  • the minister removes the event from the list
  • a national broadcaster (ABC or SBS) or commercial broadcaster with a combined audience of more than half of the Australian population has purchased the rights
  • 7 days have passed since the end of the event.