The government just introduced a bill which allows all the major TV channels to broadcast in high definition before the footy finals.
Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull today read The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Primary Television Broadcasting Service) Bill for the second time in parliament.
The bill enables national and commercial free-to-air broadcasters to deliver programming on their primary television services in either standard definition or high-definition formats.
“At present, free-to-air broadcasters are required to provide their primary television service in standard definition. This is a relic of the analog era, introduced at the start of the digital television switchover process to ensure that viewers would have access to at least one digital channel per broadcaster,” Turnbull said.
“This government is committed to removing unnecessary and outdated regulations that hamper industry from providing services that respond to audience preferences.
“High-definition television equipment is now virtually ubiquitous in Australian homes.”
Broadcasters’ primary television services include ABC1, SBS ONE, 7, Prime7, Nine, WIN, Ten and Southern Cross.
“The bill is being introduced now to provide broadcasters with the flexibility to broadcast upcoming events, such as this year’s AFL and NRL grand finals, in high definition, should they chose to do so,” Turnbull said.
This month the AFL and NRL have both negotiated new rights deals with broadcasters. The NRL struck a four-year deal with Nine from 2018 which is worth $185 million a year for four games per week plus the State of Origin. It hasn’t finalised its pay TV, digital and international rights deals yet.
The AFL’s reported $2.5 billion rights deal over six years is the biggest in Australian sporting history. From 2017, AFL fans will be able to watch three live games on Seven each round as well as the grand final.
“Live sport is a huge part and a growing part of free-to-air television,” Turnbull said. “As so much more of the program video content is going over the top—that is to say, it is being provided over streamed internet services like Presto, like Netflix, like Stan—and as viewers want to be able to watch episode drama programs, for example, at their convenience, the value of live events, particularly live sport, is of greater and greater importance.”
“There is no form of television programming where high-definition transmission is more important than live sports. It does make a very big difference.”
Here’s the video.