Sunday May 26,2013 : AUSSIE T.V. NETWORKS AGREE TO CUT DISPLAY OF GAMBLING ODDS
 
Pressure from the federal government speeds the decision
 
The controversy over television displays of betting odds during sports event coverage in Australia appears to have been settled by a networks agreement following pressure from the federal government.
 
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that television networks have agreed to implement the government’s proposed new restrictions after Prime Minister Julia Gillard threatened to legislate a complete ban.
 
The networks had earlier put forward a plan that would still allow the practice during quarter-time and half-time breaks, but Gillard said that did not go far enough.
 
She gave networks two weeks to present a code that complied with the government's requirements, and which would only allow generic gambling adverts [not betting odds] during quarter-time and half-time breaks.
 
Free TV, which represents the television networks, agreed to implement the new restrictions.
 
"These are unprecedented restrictions for broadcasters but we accept the government has acted in response to community concern," a statement form Free TV said. "We will submit a revised code within the next two weeks in line with the Prime Minister's announcement."
 
Gillard was characteristically blunt in stating her point of view on the betting odds issue, saying: "From the moment the players step onto the field to the moment that they leave the field, there will be no live odds. Broadcasters have been warned that failure to present a suitable code will result in the Government taking further action.
 
"I think it has got over the top and I think people will be relieved."
 
NRL chief executive Dave Smith said the government's intervention is an important step towards finding the right balance; betting must not be allowed to become the primary focus of the game and young fans should not be exposed to excessive promotion of betting during matches.
 
However, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said the government's new restrictions on gambling ads do not go far enough.
 
"Live odds may well be on the way out," he said. "But viewers will still be inundated with gambling ads before the game, during quarter-time, half-time, three-quarter time and after the game, so there will still be a strong link between gambling and sport."