Sport on free-to-air TV in jeopardy

The Federal Government has flagged changes to anti-siphoning laws, saying there is a valid case to force a "use-it-or-lose-it" policy on free-to-air television stations.

Pay-TV operators are pushing the government to relax the laws which prevent them from acquiring exclusive rights to listed sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup, AFL and NRL matches, rugby tests and international cricket matches in which Australian teams are playing.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says the government is "quietly talking" with sporting organisations, free-to-air broadcasters and subscription networks about the issue.

He would not reveal details of a conversation he had with billionaire businessman James Packer, whose company Consolidated Media Holdings owns 25 per cent of pay-TV operator Foxtel, during a round of golf the pair played earlier in February.

But Senator Conroy said free-to-air television operators had damaged their argument for retention of current arrangements by purchasing sporting rights and then not broadcasting them.

"That has led to an enormous backlash against commercial TV," he told ABC Radio on Friday.

"I think there is a very valid case to be made for a use-it-or-lose-it-style provision."

Sound off sports fans! Should the free-to-air channels have first dibs on televising sporting events, or have they abused this privilege by not showing all you want to see? Tell us what you think of the anti-siphoning regulations below.

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