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Concerns over paywall for more Australian AFL games

(Photo: courtesy of Michelle Rowland)

Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has raised concerns about a plan for more live Australian Football League (AFL) games to be put behind a paywall.

She told The Age newspaper she had spoken directly about the issue with the league’s top executives. She also spoke to broadcasters and other stakeholders.

The AFL is in the final stages of negotiations with potential partners about the rights to show matches from 2025, with the possibility that fewer games will be made available on free-to-air TV channels.

Ms Rowland’s highly unusual intervention during a commercial rights negotiations process indicates the government is determined to ensure sport remains easily accessible to the general public.

The AFL is confident its next deal will not breach the so-called anti-siphoning laws, under which some key sports and cultural events must be made available free.

It argues that deals with the pay-TV networks ensure it has more money to invest in grassroots footy.

Under the current deal, between three and four games in each nine-game round are shown free on the Seven Network and five to six on the pay-TV operator Foxtel and its streaming service Kayo.