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NRL & ARL Join Forces To Barrack For Telstra On The NBN

By David Richards | Friday | 12/06/2009

In a joint submission the ARL and the NRL have gone into bat for Telstra in a submission that claims that Telstra should be allowed to become a media Company operating on the new National Broadband Network.

The two codes said that the notion that online media rights content could be subjected to a new anti-siphoning list or some other regulatory instrument, without significant financial hardship for a national sporting organisation is simply delusional. The comments were made in a submission to the Federal Government investigating the impact of a new National Broadband Network.

The joint codes submission rejected the notion that one content service provider of our media rights is dominant over others, as the rights allocation is currently spread across a wide variety of mediums.

The submission claims that "Significantly the government's discussion paper talks of the problems associated withTelstra becoming a media company but is silent on the growing reality that media companies are increasingly becoming on-line entities".

Should a Telstra or any other on line provide be excluded from bidding for unique content while media companies entering this space remain able to through their existing arrangements, then competition will in fact be reduced in direct contrast to the Government's stated goals. The codes submission claims.

The notion that online media rights content could be subjected to a new Anti-siphoning list or some other regulatory instrument, without significant financial hardship for a national sporting organisation is simply delusional. As the decentralisation of modern media continues to evolve, the proportion of rights funds gleamed from online rights will grow more rapidly than those of the more traditional media organisations.

These increasing funds are important to offset loses in traditional media funds while also increasing the reach, scale and scope of a national sport.

The Rugby League community would caution against any moves to increase the economic viability of the National Broadband Network over and above the wholesale network that would result from the rollout phase. The artificial inflation of the wholesale network to include premium content, for example: sports online media rights, which would need to be removed from a competitive market place would severely restrict the value that a national sporting organisation could realise and thus re-invest through its sport.

In the case of the NRL Telstra Premiership, Telstra's online and mobile sports properties have strongly benefited consumers and fans. Thanks to Telstra, sports fans can access high quality and up-to-date footage and information when, where and how they want.

The emergence of online and mobile content offerings gives consumers greater choice and higher quality access to content. Restricting Telstra's ability to acquire content will adversely impact Telstra's ability to develop and offer world leading products. This in turn will adversely affect our fans and consumers.

What is at risk?
All funds received from the various media rights packages fund Rugby League from the top down. Rugby League needs to be able to sell its media rights with absolute certainty
in relation to the regulatory regime, across a wide range of platforms.

The revenue the ARL & NRL receive from the sale of online media rights benefits the development of Rugby League and the local communities in which it is played. Restricting, in any way, a potential buyer from acquiring online media content will obviously adversely affect revenues and the services offered to and by the Rugby League Community.

In 2008-2009 Rugby League will spend over $50 million on development activities across the breadth and depth of the Rugby League community, with total expenditure
exceeding $200 million.

The Rugby League community firmly believes that the current telecommunication regulations are sufficient to allow for the Government's development of the National Broadband Network, without the need for further regulation.

Ultimately a sustainable NBN platform must be able to provide for a sustainable on-line economy for the production of the content that will decide its relevance to everyday Australians.

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