Oz frames Games for public

Gov't list keeps sports on free-to-air webs

SYDNEY — Australia on Wednesday dashed the pay TV industry’s hopes of securing exclusive rights to major sporting events.

It has added the Olympic and Commonwealth Games to the list that must be offered on free-to-air webs. The list already includes the Australian Football League and National Rugby League matches, Test cricket between the U.K. and Australia, the English FA Cup soccer final, World Cup soccer and the Melbourne Cup horse race.

Noting that fewer than 25% of Aussie homes subscribe to pay TV, Communications and Arts Minister Daryl Williams said the list needed to be reinforced to ensure as many viewers as possible are able to access the events.

The new list will apply beginning Jan. 1, 2006, through 2010. The government removed some events that receive little or no free-to-air coverage and extended the automatic delisting period for programs not picked up by terrestrial webs from six to 12 weeks.

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