Broadcasting is free speech too

In the latest example of political hysteria, the South Australian government has proposed a change to gambling codes of practice to ban live betting odds from sporting match broadcasts. Premier Jay Weatherill indicated his hopes for the siren-to-siren ban to be implemented by the end of this year’s AFL season in September, saying:

It’s staggering how much match-day broadcast time is being devoted to sports betting and live odds.

Never mind that television licensees aren’t allowed any more than 16 minutes for advertising per hour, as stated in the ACMA code of practice. Unless betting companies can somehow afford to saturate 100% of the ad market, their screen time is even lesser yet.

But the issue here is not simply about betting odds. Freedom of speech also extends to what broadcasters and commentators are allowed to say. Many of us don’t like gambling and freely choose not to take part in it. But that shouldn’t give us the right to gag presenters from talking about things we may not like.

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