THE two best games of every NRL round will remain on free-to-air TV under a deal to be struck by the Gillard Government and league's newly formed independent commission.
The Government confirmed yesterday it would delist games that are currently not shown on free-to-air TV, but only when there was a mechanism in place to protect the quality of games on free-to-air.
Safe on free-to-air TV ... Manly celebrate their 2008 grand final win. Source: The Daily Telegraph
Under the Government's new rules for sports broadcasting, more detail of which were released yesterday, the two best AFL games every week will be guaranteed to free-to-air TV.
"This mechanism will ensure, as is the case now, that Friday and Saturday night games are able to be purchased by free-to-air and that these feature the two best games of each round, as selected by the AFL," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said.
"The Government expects to negotiate a similar quality assurance mechanism for weekly NRL games with Australian Rugby League's newly formed independent commission.
"Until these guarantees are agreed, all games of AFL and NRL will remain listed events, preventing their acquisition by a pay-TV licence holder."
The arrangements require three NRL matches be shown on free-to-air TV each week, while the remaining five will be on the open market.
It is likely that the first, second and fifth-best matches of each round will be shown on free-to-air channels.
The existing anti-siphoning list was due to expire on December 31 this year.
"Without a new list there would be no ongoing protection of sport on free-to-air television," Senator Conroy said.
The Melbourne Cup, the Bathurst 1000, Twenty20 cricket matches and the FIFA World Cup soccer qualifiers will be added to a list of events offered to the major networks.
Under a "use it or lose it" clause, the free-to-air channels will be forced to show all events that they bid for.s, or lose them to pay-TV.