Australia’s federal government has granted pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports a further A$10m (€6.2m/$7.15m) in funding to continue its support of women’s, niche and other under-represented sports coverage.
The latest funding tranche is part of an ongoing relationship between the two entities that dates back to 2017. It brings total funding for the under-represented sports grant to A$40m over six years.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said the funding will allow Fox Sports to extend its broadcasting for under-represented sports over the next two years.
He said: “With six dedicated sports channels and a wide range of sports news, Fox Sports has a strong commitment to broadcasting sports and events that may not otherwise receive television coverage.”
In May, Fox Sports’ parent company, pay-television operator Foxtel, said it was “confident” it would meet the conditions necessary to secure the latest funding package. Foxtel is required to broadcast sports such as women’s Aussie rules football, basketball and soccer as part of an initial A$30m grant bestowed by the government back in 2017.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications examined Foxtel’s 12-month performance this month. It stated that over the past year, despite the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on sports competitions, Fox Sports broadcast more than 4,888 hours of content covered by the grant, including 1,167 hours of live broadcast.
Coverage included more than 3,050 hours of women’s sport, which is an increase of more than 100 per cent since 2016.
Covid-19’s impact on the sporting calendar had called into question whether Foxtel would be able to meet the conditions necessary to secure a fresh grant, but head of Fox Sports, Peter Campbell, said in May that it would pass the government’s final assessment as it had not only met but exceeded the 2019-20 benchmarks prior to the shutdowns caused by the pandemic.
Commenting on the government’s decision, Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany said: “With eight 24-hour Fox Sports channels, our Kayo Sports streaming service and Foxsports.com.au, we are uniquely placed to deliver on the policy objectives of the funding.
“Only Foxtel has the production capability, channel capacity and OTT and digital platforms to provide thousands of hours of coverage of women’s and under-represented sports.”