Free to air tv coverage of the hallowed golfing event last year dwindled to nothing and that is not about to change anytime soon.
Many forlornly search at this time of year hoping an Australian television network will come to the party – even just with one hour highlight packages – only to be disappointed.
The simple fact is that Channel 9, the traditional broadcaster of The Open in Australia, no longer has any interest in covering the event and no other free to air broadcaster wants to take up the rights.
Many golf fans look to Australia’s anti-siphoning laws as a saviour but there is a lot of confusion about what can be a complicated area.
Under the new anti-siphoning legislation (introduced on 22 March 2012 but yet to be passed) there are only three golf events on the “protected” list.
These are the Australian Masters, Australian Open and US Masters.
The good thing about the new legislation is that because these three golf events are listed as “Tier B” events, the Australian networks will now be allowed to broadcast them exclusively on their free to air digital channels.
That, in theory at least, would be an incentive for someone like Channel Ten for example to be able to broadcast the Australian Open on its ONE network rather than previously where it had to be shown first on the main channel. (Ten has already announced it will not be broadcasting the 2012 Australian Open).
What the anti-siphoning laws don’t do is force free to air channels to buy the rights to any sporting events or to broadcast them.
The main thrust of the laws is to prevent pay television broadcasters buying the rights to events on the anti-siphoning list before free-to-air broadcasters have the opportunity to purchase them.
The new laws will introduce another important measure in that they will stop free to air broadcasters from “hoarding” rights if they don’t intend to cover events themselves.
If free to air broadcasters have the rights to an event and they don’t intend to fully use them they have to offer them on to other free to air broadcasters before they can go to pay television.
None of this helps the British Open of course. It is not on the list in the first place and if it were that simple fact wouldn’t force it being broadcast.
In the commercial broadcasting world the only thing that matters these days is ratings, and golf just isn’t rating enough at present. Perhaps we can start looking to the ABC and SBS?
In the meantime, the only recourse for those wishing to see the British Open is pay television or maybe even live internet streaming at somewhere like P2P golf.
2012 British Open Fox Sports Coverage
The good news for Foxtel/Austar subscribers in Australia is that there will be more 2012 British Open Coverage than you can possibly poke a stick at.
There’ll be lots of British Open Official Film screenings and previews beforehand but live coverage begins Thursday July 19, 6pm to 4am.
1st Round: Thursday July 19, Live 6pm – 4am; Friday July 20, Repeats/Highlights, 8am – 11.30am; 1.30pm – 5pm.
2nd Round: Friday July 20, Live 6pm – 4am; Saturday July 21, Repeat/Highlights, 8am – 12 noon; 2pm – 6pm.
3nd Round: Saturday July 21, Live 7pm – 4am; Sunday July 22, Repeat/Highlights, 8am – 12 noon; 4pm – 8pm.
Final Round: Sunday July 22, Live 8pm – 4am; Monday, July 23, Repeat/Highlights, 9am – 12 noon; 3.30pm – 6.30pm.