The Liberals’ $30 million hand-out to Fox Sports has again been exposed as nothing more than a political sweetener.
Australian Sport Commission and Office for Sport officials confirmed at a Senate estimates hearing last week that they had not been asked to provide any advice in relation to the dubious deal.
The Liberals would have Australians believe this payment is about sport, but they didn’t even consult their own sport advisers about whether it was a good idea.
In the Senate in August, more than three months after the funding was announced, the Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, conceded there were still no conditions or criteria in place and the best he could offer was that his department was still working on it.
Then, a month later, in September, the Minister received a pair of cufflinks as a gift from Foxtel.
It is now even more obvious that this hefty hand-out is not and has never been about boosting the profile of women’s sport.
If the Government genuinely wanted to boost the profile of women’s sport then why didn’t it offer the same assistance to all the TV networks, not just to Fox Sports.
The Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, says Fox Sports was chosen because it provides about 70 per cent of the women’s sport coverage currently on television.
But 70 per cent is also roughly the number of Australian households who don’t have access to Foxtel and it is likely that even more don’t have a Fox Sports subscription.
We all know what this $30 million grant is really about because Senator Fifield himself admitted it in an interview with the ABC, in which he said:
“We recognise that the free-to-air TV operators had the opportunity to offset some revenue losses against the licence fee reduction part of the package. But we also recognise that subscription TV … don’t pay licence fees and therefore they don’t have the same offset opportunity.”
Turnbull and Fifield aren’t interested in levelling the playing field for women’s and niche sports – they’re only interested in looking after big business.