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Australia unveils gambling ads clampdown, anti-siphoning reforms

The Australian federal government’s Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, has revealed a broad package of media reforms, including a shortened anti-siphoning list of sporting events reserved for free-to-air television and tighter restrictions on gambling advertisements during sports coverage.

Gambling adverts will be blocked between five minutes before a live sports broadcast and until five minutes after the end of the coverage, or 8.30pm – whatever comes first.

“It's not the end of the story in terms of gambling reform," Fifield, who said that sports preview shows should also be monitored for promoting gambling, told the AAP news agency on Saturday. “We need to ban all gambling ads during sports broadcasts, but at least we've made some progress.”

On the changes to the anti-siphoning list, Fifield added in a statement: “The reform package will also amend Australia’s anti-siphoning regime to reduce the size of the list and update other parts of the scheme, whilst ensuring that iconic sporting events of national significance are retained.”

The government will also spend Aus$30m (€20m/$22m) over four years to encourage pay-television broadcasters to increase coverage of women's and niche sports.

The reforms, which also include a change in the licence-fee regime, have been broadly welcomed by free-to-air broadcasters.

The Australian Subscription Television & Radio Association said that it conditionally supported the package.