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Nine, Fox top 'must-win' NRL rights fight - 21st August 2012

The Nine Network has secured its future by nailing down the NRL broadcast rights in a joint $1 billion deal announced with Fox Sports.

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) announced on Tuesday that Nine and Fox Sports had secured the NRL free-to-air and pay TV broadcast rights respectively, in a five-year deal worth $1.025 billion.

Nine chief executive David Gyngell says the deal, in which incumbents Nine and Fox Sports trumped bids from the Seven and Ten networks, had been a must-win for Nine but that the price is "fair and reasonable".

"We have certainly stepped up and paid as much money as we could," Mr Gyngell said.

Mr Gyngell also said the deal - the most valuable in the history of rugby league broadcast rights - would be revenue positive.

"This is an exclusive sports rights' deal," he said.

"In this deal, we are the only free-to-air network to have exclusive sport at prime-time."

The agreement comprises $925 million in cash, of which $90 million is paid at the start of the 2013 season, and $100 million in advertising.

Nine will show three free-to-air matches weekly, while Fox Sports will have five a week on pay channels.

Nine will also have State of Origin games and an evening Grand Final.

NRL rights were last secured by Nine and Fox Sports in 2005 in a $500 million, six-year deal.

Nine Entertainment, owned by private equity firm CVC, has about $3.6 billion of debt due for refinancing in 2013 and 2014.

Media buyer Harold Mitchell, executive chairman of Aegis Media, said Nine had not overpaid and would meet its share of the $1.025 billion price tag through advertising revenue.

"Advertising volume hasn't been growing but it hasn't been collapsing," Mr Mitchell said.

"Key to any network's success will be sports programming and (Nine) are a stronger network with it than without it.

"This secures their future."

Mr Mitchell said the $1 billion deal was a positive sign for Australia's advertising market, which was in "unbelievably good shape compared to the rest of the world".

Morningstar head of equities research Peter Warnes said Nine had paid a fair price but also had to secure the rugby league as a key driver of audience numbers.

"Where would Nine be if they lost it? They had to win it," Mr Warnes said.

"I think they've probably paid a fair price.

"Had it been $1.2 billion, it would have been over the top."

Ten Network had been rumoured to have secured a package of NRL games ahead of Tuesday's announcement but is now without either rugby league or AFL, the rights to which are held by Seven.

Mr Mitchell said the NRL deal "places Ten in a difficult position". (AAP)

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Aussie Gambling Firms Push Via Sports Broadcasts, by Greg Tingle - 2nd April 2011

G'day punters, casino and gambling millionaires and billionaires, sports nuts, politicians, legal eagles, one and all. Australia remains red hot territory for gambling news. We've got Aussie sports media commentators plugging gambling, the pro club gambling campaign driving forward, NRL sports betting probe developments with a link to Tasmanian "devils" and Aussie pokies manufacture Aristocrat making a comeback, with the pokies boss hitting his own jackpot. All that and more. Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com and Gambling911 with your gambling, sports betting and pokies news mix from the land of kangaroos and koalas, with a rabid Tasmanian devil on the loose...

Gambling Companies Push Via TV Broadcasts And News Media...

Gambling giants have the big push on via promoting sports betting with a volatile and quite effective array of sweet deals with clubs, sporting codes, television stations and a big spread of traditional and new media outlets.

Sports commentators are at the front line with frequent betting odds updates, and mid-match updates are a field day, if you will. It's all part of the strategy in place with bookies and big name gambling operators.

"If you like to have a punt on rugby league, and why wouldn't ya, the Broncos are $1.50 on TAB Sportsbet," former Queensland Origin great Paul Vautin told NRL viewers in Friday's opening-round match against the Cowboys.

"Please bet responsibly - we have to say that. If you race down to the TAB at half-time, or ring TAB Sportsbet, they are the prices at the moment."

Next up was Network Nine broadcaster Wally Lewis just after the first half of the game with "TAB Sportsbet right now, Broncos first to score in the second half, $1.75."

Plenty of other sports are in on the action too, with Network Nine sports getting the nod on the most gambling and sports betting plugs. Cricket has broadcasting Richie Benaud discussing the odds, with a bit of help from his fellow commentators, as part of a cool deal with James Packer's 50% owned Betfair.

Nine head of sport Steve Crawley said the broadcaster's promotion was no different from newspapers providing odds on sports and horse races.

"We're electronic media, so when we do that it's in-game. I realise some people have awful problems with gambling, but the reality is that it's getting bigger and bigger."

It's hot fodder in the NRL, which is sponsored by TAB Sportsbet, has deals with "approved betting providers" and permits clubs to have their own gambling sponsors.

The footy still has a scandal on the go from alleged illegal betting surrounding last year's infamous Canterbury Bulldogs VS North Queensland Cowboys game.

NRL chief exec David Gallop said corruption was one of the biggest concerns for sporting administrators.

"The risks in terms of penalties have to be severe," said Gallop, who is pushing for a specific match-fixing offence and has warned of offenders facing life bans.

The AFL is also sponsored by TAB Sportsbet and betting firms support individual clubs, including Centrebet's deal with 2010 runner-up St Kilda for a reported $1 million a year.

TAB Sportsbet has deals with Seven and Fox Sports.

Overseas operators such at PartyGaming and PKR have also leaked that they are interested in getting into big media deals in Australia, with an already strong internet presence.

Cricket Australia allows Betfair on grounds, and the National Basketball League has a deal with Centrebet that includes court promotions.

UFC, boxing, horse racing, tennis, soccer and even surfing enjoy strong sports betting action in Australia, with a number of other sports like snooker looking to plug into the gambling deals in Australia.

Aussie Media and Racing King John Singleton Drives Forward Pro Pokies Ad Push...

John "Singo" Singleton, who happens to love a punt himself, in the man and the brains behind the $20 million advertising campaign by the Aussie clubs against the Julia Gillard government's slot machine reforms.

The Gillard government is hell bent so it seems to implement the "problem gambling" reforms to retain whatever support might remain from Tasmanian "devil" (satire) "independent" Andrew Wilkie.

Singo's ad firm Banjo has developed a media and public relations campaign to focus on recreational gamblers' fears of having any government 'Big Brother' spying on their betting habits. Yep, we kid you not. Australia's are being spied on, and pokie palaces may turn into one of the ultimate evil "eyes in the sky", that may end up making Google Earth and Google Maps look like child's play.

The Banjo deal for a cool $20 mil, running for 2 years, started with online video and newspaper adverts. It will then pick up even more stream via radio, television, billboards and even pub coasters. Australian newspapers have already been giving the news story strong mileage and its taking on a life of its own, with most gamblers hating what they hear of government 'Big Brother'.

The clubs is dead against a mandatory scheme for players to register before playing poker machines, using so called smartcards (not so smart say European trials) and self-selected gambling limits (which can be manipulated).

A leak said "Clubs Australia said that gambling revenue will drop considerably as recreational gamblers get pissed with the government and clubs, and will take more to online gambling "like a duck to water". This is right on the money and cards. The 'Big Brother' approach is a false solution - actually, its no solution. It's a smokescreen and spin. The public are not that stupid, they are actually quite smart, and Labor has underestimated Australians intelligence once again. No wonder Labor lost the NSW state election".

Singo and a consortium of investors, including the investment banker Mark Carnegie, the retail king Gerry Harvey and ex Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon, have purchased high-profile Sydney pubs including Kinselas, the Bellevue Hotel and Peakhurst Inn. Singleton also jointly owns the Hotel Steyne in Manly.

He had a strong association with the Labor government under Bob Hawke during the '80s and early '90s, but last year developed ads attacking Labor on health during the election campaign, and earlier joined the mega push against the mining tax with a campaign for a Perth client, tipped to be Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest.

"The government's belated decision to perform a cost benefit analysis on mandatory pre-commitment is back to front,'' a spokesman for Clubs NSW said.

''This sort of analysis should have been done before the government announced it was introducing the technology.

''If that had been done then almost certainly the Prime Minister would never have been conned by Andrew Wilkie into making a commitment that will devastate the club industry.''

The Families Minister, Jenny Macklin, said ''The government's position is clear and has not changed.''

Police Seek Woman Punter Re NRL Cowboys - Bulldogs Betting Scandal...

Police have released CCTV images of yet another punter they want to speak to about an alleged NRL betting scam. The images were captured at a Browns Bay betting outlet in Auckland, New Zealand, between 4.50pm and 5.15pm on August 20 last year - the day before the game between the Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys, police advised. The woman was described as being aged in her 20s, with a slim build, shoulder-length hair and of Caucasian appearance. She was wearing a dark-coloured zippered hooded jacket, blue jeans and carrying a red handbag and was seen pushing a young boy in a pram, police said. She returned to the betting facility about 5.35pm on August 21. Police said in a statement that they were not alleging she had done anything illegal, but said investigators wanted to find out who she was so they could speak to her. Player agent Sam Ayoub and ex-player John Elias have been charged in direct relation to the betting inquiry, while now ex-Bulldogs prop Ryan Tandy has been charged with four counts of giving false or misleading evidence to a NSW Crime Commission hearing. Among the charges Tandy faces is one of giving false evidence about having placed a bet on a game between the Bulldogs and Gold Coast, also last year. The charges against Ayoub and Elias followed an unusual plunge on a betting option that the first points of that game would come from a penalty goal. Tandy was penalised two minutes into the game for impeding Cowboys playmaker Grant Rovelli in front of the posts. The Cowboys were awarded a penalty, but took a tap kick instead of kicking for goal. Tandy, 29, pleaded not guilty to all charges during his appearance in Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court on March 3. Meanwhile, St George Illawarra can finally get down to concentrating on their 2011 following Wayne Bennett's decision to leave the club at the end of the season. The coach's announcement has removed the largest cloud hanging over the Dragons' premiership defence, with the constant innuendo and rumour having played a part in the side's sluggish start to the year. While the issue won't be fully resolved until Bennett reveals where he will coach next season, back-rower Ben Creagh said news of the coach's impending departure would at least focus the players' efforts on getting the most out of the time he had left. While the appointment of Bennett's right-hand man, Steve Price, and the retention of much of the same squad for 2012 should ensure a smooth transition to the new era, the Dragons' best chance to win another premiership in the near future would surely be while Bennett is the man.

Aristocrat Boss Hits The Jackpot...

Jamie Odell, chief exec of Aussie pokie manufacturer Aristocrat, has hit the jackpot on an 'one armed bandit', if you follow the lingo. Odell snatched 24% jump in total pay to $2.5 million last year, despite Aristocrat putting out another very average result. The chief executive's base pay in the period increased 19% to $1.25 million. Aristocrat's normalised profit after tax dropped 53% in 2010. One of the resolutions at the upcoming June AGM in Sydney to be voted on by shareholders is a grant to Odell of 1.02 million performance share rights as part of his long-term incentive package. The rights, which would be granted over a 3-year period, are performance based. If Aristocrat happens to outperform the ASX 100 by more than 10% cent each year, Odell will snatch 30% of the shares. He will get 70% of the shares if he hits certain earnings targets. Will he meet his targets and hit the Gold Mega Jackpot? Stay tuned to find out. Aristocrat is also currently working on a number of b2b deal with online casino operators which are also tipped to return a healthy jackpot to the company, as well as hours of fun for online gamblers.

Greg Tingle runs the Media Man International website, he is a Special Contributor for Gambling911.com

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