Government removes NRL matches from anti-siphoning list for Nine

The Australian government removed games in the National Rugby League, the domestic rugby league competition, from the country’s ‘anti-siphoning’ list, which reserves events for free-to-air broadcast, allowing commercial broadcaster Nine Network to show them on its digital channel GEM in seven regional markets.

The move was approved by Stephen Conroy, Australia’s federal minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy. It is the first time NRL matches have been removed from the list, although Senator Conroy has previously approved the removal of tennis, cricket and AFL matches.

The move will allow Nine to broadcast 2012 NRL Premiership matches in the regions of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and remote Central and Eastern Australia on GEM from Friday. The agreement also includes the Australia national team’s Test match against New Zealand on April 20.

“This is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders – the viewers in these markets, the NRL, the Federal Government and of course Nine, whose joint mission is to bring the game to as many people as possible,” said Jeffrey Browne, Nine’s managing director.