Free TV Australia rejects calls for further restrictions on gambling ads

Ads for betting products are prohibited between 5am and 8.30pm.
Ads for betting products are prohibited between 5am and 8.30pm.

Free TV Australia has said that additional restrictions would make it difficult to provide free sports coverage.

Australia.- Free TV Australia, the representative organisation for free-to-air commercial broadcasters, has rejected calls for stricter regulations on gambling advertisements. It says such a move could result in less free sports coverage. 

Free TV Australia said the extent of gambling advertisements on television has been misrepresented by anti-gambling campaigners and was misunderstood by the public. In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling harm, it said that additional restrictions would make it increasingly difficult to provide free sports coverage. 

CEO Bridget Fair said that advertising was the sole source of revenue for most broadcasters operating in a highly competitive market. She pointed out that sports rights were very expensive, and further restrictions on gambling advertisements would make it even more difficult to acquire them.

She disputed widely cited analysis by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation that found an average of 948 gambling advertisements were broadcast each day on free-to-air television in Victoria in 2021. She claimed the average was actually 195. Based on an average viewing time of two to three hours of commercial television a day, she estimated that people might see two to three ads a day.

However, Charles Livingstone, an associate professor of public health at Monash University, called the claim “nonsense and impervious to reason.” He added that anyone who watches sports on TV regularly could confirm that gambling ads are an incessant bombardment.

The committee has heard evidence that the current restrictions, which ban sports gambling advertisements between 5am and 8.30pm and during live matches, are no longer effective in protecting children from exposure to gambling. 

Deakin University gambling researcher Dr. Samantha Thomas told the inquiry that many children can recite gambling advertisements and recognise companies by their brand colours. She added that they have a deep understanding of betting products, despite the fact the products have only been around for a short time.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has also called on the government to consider the impact of gambling advertisements on children, noting that complaints have almost doubled in the past financial year. 

It told the inquiry that assessments of the effectiveness of gambling advertising rules, particularly for the protection of children, should take into account changing viewing behaviours.

See also: 71% of Australians agree that TV gambling ads should be banned

In this article: