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Australian sport set to open up to HD future

Australian sports fans are set to be granted more access to high-definition coverage of top leagues and competitions due to a change in broadcasting regulations.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said the Australian government has lifted restrictions on how free-to-air broadcasters use their digital television channels following the completion of the country’s digital switch-over process.

Broadcasters have previously been bound by a government decree that high-profile sport like AFL Aussie rules football games must be broadcast on their standard-definition ‘primary’ channel. This was to cater for the example of analogue viewers only being able to watch commercial broadcaster Seven and not its digital-only services 7Two and 7Mate.

The Herald has said the changed legislation will allow broadcasters to make full use of their digital channels and screen sport in HD. However, it won’t come in time for this year’s AFL final series, which will only be broadcast in SD on Seven.

The newspaper added that Seven has committed to broadcasting matches in HD as part of its new AFL rights deal, covering the six seasons from 2017 to 2022, with Seven owner Kerry Stokes indicating the change may happen sooner.