The Alliance for Gambling Reform is proposing that Aussie media eschew gambling advertisements in return for discounted licensing
The Australian anti-gambling group Alliance for Gambling Reform has come up with an innovative proposal to censor the media, suggesting that licence fees be reduced (discounted) for media groups that refuse to accept gambling advertisements.
Reporting on the proposal, the publication WA Today reveals that it would involve media networks receiving a dollar-for-dollar fee discount for every betting commercial they reject.
The alliance has offered the plan to high profile anti-gambling independent parliamentarians Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie, who are currently campaigning for the federal reform of pokie machine laws and a crackdown on betting advertising during sports broadcasts.
Gambling advertisements represent a significant chunk of media company revenues, and the alliance wants to make it worthwhile for networks to turn such adverts away.
Rohan Wenn, the director of strategy for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told WA Today that under the plan, for every dollar a network did not take from a sports betting company, its Commonwealth TV licence would be reduced by a dollar.
"Channel Seven and Channel Nine have basically been there from the start of TV," he said. "They are a social good, and are as important to many Australians as the ABC.
"We get rid of the ads that are killing the codes we love, and we do it in a way that protects the channels and the media organisations we have come to rely on."
It hasn't taken long for opponents of the concept to step forward; the commercial networks' body Free TV Australia has rejected the idea, saying extensive measures are already in place to ensure community standards are met and that there is responsible advertising and promotion of betting services.
"Television broadcasting licence fees are in urgent need [of] reform so that we can maintain a strong free-to-air industry into the future. This process should not be linked to further content restrictions," a spokesman said.
Senator Xenophon has commented that there is merit in a plan that would not damage the networks' bottom line.
"Networks should not have to be out of pocket; it should be the online bookies," he said.
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