The anti-siphoning scheme aims to promote the free availability to audiences throughout Australia of television coverage of events of national importance and cultural significance.

The scheme currently prevents a subscription television broadcasting licensee from acquiring a right to televise an event on the anti-siphoning list unless a free-to-air broadcaster has a right to televise the event.  The anti-siphoning list includes events the Minister for Communications believes should be televised free to the general public.

Free-to-air broadcasters don't have to buy the rights to televise events on the anti-siphoning list. Even if they do buy the rights, they don't have to show the event live: they could broadcast the event later, or not at all.

An event is automatically removed from the anti-siphoning list 26 weeks before the event is due to start.

The Minister can override automatic delisting if satisfied that a free-to-air broadcaster has not had a reasonable chance to buy the rights.

The Minister can also choose to add or remove events from the anti-siphoning list at any time. The list is a legislative instrument made under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

Pay TV broadcasters can acquire the television rights to an event if:

  • the event is automatically removed from the anti-siphoning list
  • the Minister removes the event from the list
  • a national broadcaster (ABC or SBS) or commercial television broadcasters with a combined audience of more than half of the Australian population has purchased the rights
  • 7 days have passed since the end of the event.

Review of the anti-siphoning scheme

The Government recently reviewed the scheme to ensure it remains fit for purpose for the contemporary media environment.

After an initial consultation from October to December 2022, the anti-siphoning list was remade in March 2023 for an interim period of 3 years with no substantive changes. The interim list will ensure the continuity of the scheme while the review of the scheme is progressed.

Feedback from the initial consultation informed the development of a proposals paper setting out a range of reform options to update the scheme and list was consulted on from August to September 2023.

In September 2023, the Minister amended the anti-siphoning list to include selected FIFA Women's World Cup matches, including every match of the tournament involving the senior Australian representative team; the tournament final; and qualifying matches involving the senior representative team that are played in Australia. The amended list provides for the equivalent listing of the FIFA World Cup—the men's tournament—and the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Reform of the anti-siphoning scheme and list

The Government introduced legislation to reform the anti-siphoning scheme to Parliament on 29 November 2023. Alongside introduction, the Government published a draft anti-siphoning list to aid the Parliament's consideration of the anti-siphoning framework as a whole.

On 4 July 2024, the Parliament passed the Government's Communications Legislation Amendment (Prominence and Anti-siphoning) Bill 2024, strengthening the anti-siphoning scheme by extending it to regulate online streaming services.

The Bill and Explanatory Memorandum are available on the Australian Parliament House website.