By Andrew Gigacz
Imagine if Adelaide were second on the ladder and they were playing in top team St Kilda in Melbourne. For Crows supporters it’d be a dream scenario. First v second live into their lounge rooms.
Now imagine that the game was only available for viewing in Adelaide via Pay TV. You can bet your bottom dollar that Adelaide would erupt with howls of protest.
But let’s take it even further. Imagine that EVERY game the Crows played interstate was only available on Pay TV. If that were to happen the Adelaide fans would be tearing down the AFL offices in Adelaide brick by brick.
Basically, if such a scenario were to occur, there would be riots in the streets. The AFL knows this and would never allow it to happen. Nor would they be able to try that sort of thing with the Perth public and the Eagles.
In Melbourne, however, things are a little different. For supporters of some Melbourne-based teams, things are very different. Take the Bulldogs. Last year the Doggies made seven trips outside Victoria for premiership points. (They won the first five and fell just short in the other two. Not a bad effort.) Of those seven matches, how many were telecast on free-to-air TV? Not one. Yep, about a third of the Western Bulldogs’ home and away games in 2008 were played outside of Victoria and every single one was shunted off to Foxtel.
At least things have improved a bit this year for the boys from Footscray. Not by much, though. This year the Dogs play a measly SIX games interstate. Yes, once again NOT ONE of them will be broadcast free-to-air.
As a Doggies supporter, I have no qualms with Fox Sports beaming games from the MCG or Idiot Stadium into the homes of those with luxury of Pay TV. After all, as someone who lives in Melbourne, for a very reasonable price (apart from the food) I can head on down to those grounds and get my fill of Bulldogs footy. But I’m part of a family on a tight budget. Pay TV is not in our equation.
A quick scan of the 2009 AFL Fixture reveals that the other Melbourne clubs don’t fare quite so badly. Other than Melbourne, whose five games outside Victoria have all been given the “Fox-flick”, the other teams have one or some of their non-Victorian games on free-to-air. Predictably, the teams that has fared worst is North Melbourne, who play six games interstate, with only the last of those on free-to-air. And no one will be knocked down by the news that Collingwood play only four games across the border, and all but one will be televised on Seven or Ten.
I’m not so naïve as to believe that the television networks can’t have some kind of say in which games they broadcast. But Andrew Demetriou and his boys, who have done so wonderfully well in evening up the competition through measures such as the salary cap, appear to have adopted a bit of an Orwellian attitude to clubs when it comes to who can see their favourite team on Seven or Ten. Although all clubs are equal, some clubs are more equal than others.
[A copy of the fixture with television broadcast details can be found at http://www.theage.com.au/ed_docs/2009 - AFL Fixture - FINAL (media distribution).xls]