ACMA finds Foxtel breached broadcasting rules over AFL gambling ad

| By Richard Mulligan
Television business Foxtel has been reprimanded by Australia’s media regulator after being found to have breached rules on betting commercials.
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An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found that the pay TV and streaming group had breached broadcasting rules by airing a segment promoting a betting service during the live broadcast of an Australian Football League (AFL) match on Easter Monday afternoon.

The promotion ran at 4:30pm during an AFL match between Geelong and Hawthorn, breaking rules in the Subscription Broadcast Television Codes of Practice that bar gambling advertising during or within five minutes of live sports broadcast between 5am and 8.30pm.

Foxtel self-reported the breach to the ACMA following a complaint from a viewer, while the ACMA investigation found that the breach of the rules occurred as a result of human error during the live broadcast.

Following the breach finding, Foxtel provided refresher training to staff about Foxtel’s obligations relating to betting advertising under the code. ACMA said that Foxtel has also introduced new controls to ensure that gambling advertisements are not improperly broadcast during live sporting events in the future.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said: “These rules are in place to reduce exposure to betting promotions. In particular, parents worry about their children seeing gambling ads, especially those associated with shared family activities like sport.

“Foxtel is well aware of the rules and it is disappointing that this betting promotion was allowed to go to air.”

Betting commercials were banned during daytime broadcasts in 2018, although so-called ‘low-audience’ sports channels are exempt.

Last month, members of Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) – which includes most of the country’s largest online betting operators such as bet365, Betfair, Entain and Sportsbet – agreed to support a ban on the use of credit cards to gamble online in the country.

Brent Jackson, chief executive of RWA, announced the measure in his opening address to the country’s “Inquiry into Regulation of the use of financial services such as credit cards and digital wallets for online gambling in Australia”. The inquiry was set up to seek evidence on whether credit cards and digital wallets should continue to be permitted for online gambling.

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