WNBL and W-League hit as ABC cuts sports coverage

Australian public-service broadcaster the ABC has said it will end its state-based and women’s sports coverage as part of budget cuts.

ABC managing director Mark Scott today (Monday) revealed more than 400 jobs could be lost as a result of the Federal Government’s A$254m (€177.7m/$221.3m) cuts, with coverage of women’s club football competition the W-League, Women’s National Basketball League and New South Wales rugby union competition the Shute Shield among the services to be cut.

The broadcaster will also no longer televise regional Australian rules football competitions the VFL, WAFL and NTFL as part of the revised sports strategy ABC Television has put in place.

“With the ABC facing declining audience interest in local sport competitions and some codes chasing commercial opportunities, ABC Television is revising its sports strategy to ensure the most cost-efficient use of resources and optimal audience impact,” Scott said.

The decision ends a 35-year association with the WNBL, while the W-League has been shown on ABC since its inception in 2008-09.

The W-League decision will take effect from its 2015-16 season. Football Federation Australia said in a statement: “FFA is disappointed with the decision to cut the broadcast of Australia’s premier women’s national sporting competition. The decision does not affect broadcast of the current Westfield W-League season or the on-going viability of the competition and FFA will work with all broadcasters to explore options to ensure the on-going coverage of the W-League.”

The remainder of the WNBL 2014-15 season will continue to be broadcast on ABC up to and including the Grand Final to be held on March 8. Anthony Moore, Basketball Australia chief executive, said: “The Australian Sports Commission review into the WNBL will be released in early December to the basketball community.  This report deals with broadcast opportunities and BA will now turn our attention to the options available to continue to showcase the Wattle Valley WNBL to Australian basketball fans.”