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Free TV At Odds Over Betting Spruiks

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 22/05/2013

Free TV deny minister brokered secret deal allowing betting companies to spruik the odds on live TV.

The body, which represents free-to-air channels like Seven and Nine, today dismissed "incorrect" claims published in the Sydney Morning Herald that Comms Minister Stephen Conroy brokered a deal with the industry to allow betting companies to continue spruiking live odds on TV. 

Free TV also backtracked on claims by CEO Julie Flynn made in the SMH, that Minister Stephen Conroy "set out the principles" of the (proposed) reforms to the TV code of practice, which seeks to "reduce and control" the promotion of live odds in sport. 

"The draft code was developed by Free TV, and reflects the position of its members, not the government", Free TV said in a statement, today. 

"The quote attributed to Julie Flynn was made in the context of a detailed discussion of the process involved in developing the Code." 

The broadcast reforms, if implemented, would mean that bookmakers or sports commentators can appear on TV before, during breaks and after games spruiking odds, although not while the live game is in play. 

It would also ban bookies ads touting odds. 

It appears, however, the minister is refusing an outright ban on spruiking odds preferring a 'softly, softly' or what he terms a balanced approach, despite opposing views of many within his party and state governments. 

"I think there is a universal view that having live odds and gambling ads being pushed down people's throats has gone too far and that's what this code review is about - trying to shift that balance back a bit," Minister Conroy said. 

"People are going to disagree about where that balance should be. That's why we have this process."  

The reforms stemmed from a decision by the COAG Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform. The code was put out to public consultation and Free TV has received more than 200 submissions. 

When contacted by SmartHouse today, the Australian Communications and Media Authority said it "is awaiting the codes developed by Free TV and ASTRA in respect of the promotion of live odds in live sporting broadcasts. The codes must be presented to the ACMA for registration as specified in the Broadcasting Services Act."

Minister Conroy also appears to be facing a revolt by his party backbenchers including Labor MP Stephen Jones, for not going hard enough on betting reforms. 

Labor, with Julia Gillard at the helm, have being trying to crackdown on the gambling culture in Australia for some time. 

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