Free-to-air and pay TV aren't the only source of footy fun - the rights to closed-circuit TV and security camera footage are also strenuously contested by media heavy-weights.
The argie-bargie surrounding the AFL TV Rights is almost impenetrable - while massive corporations and egos collide in court, dodgy deals see these same sinister forces ganging up behind the scenes. It's Corporate Australia's version of Lord of the Flies. And with figures like $1 billion being bandied around, the stakes are as high as they get.
Most of this big fuss is generated by the AFL flogging off the right to broadcast the footy to a mouth-breathing, semi-comatose and couch-bound viewing public. Naturally, the AFL players' union wants to ensure the overpaid sport stars get their greedy little mitts on as much cash as is going. (Mind you, prising cash out of Kerry Packer's chubby pinkies is no mean feat.)
But what you don't hear about is the secret deals being done to secure rights to that other important broadcast medium for AFL players: security camera footage of their indiscretions. After Winston Abraham was spectacularly caught on camera brawling at Crown Casino, AFL media executives have realised the revenue potential of CCTV and security footage. Sources reveal that the Packer-owned Crown Casino complex is in negotiations for the rights to broadcast subsequent AFL-related biffo on their Nine network.
Given the persistent rumours about what that starlet was caught doing on camera on Crown's roof several years ago, there may be enough material for Nine to show a rude Uplate version too. Of course, the in-toilet cameras might not just capture cubicle sex, but also inadvertently capture a lot of AFL players and their hangers-on powdering their noses.
Adding to the bidding frenzy, the Melbourne City Council is purported to be offering Seven and Ten access to their own extensive security camera network, being installed for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Of particular interest to a niche but lucrative "pink dollar" market is the footage from the camera outside the gents' toilets in the various city parks. A tie-in with BetFair would allow wagering on just exactly which AFL players are dropping by late at night, providing additional income streams.
The prospects of AFL players shagging, snorting and fighting their way down Melbourne's public thoroughfares is too enticing for the TV networks to pass up. The AFL is no doubt upset at the alternative distribution of their prized content: football player violence. Legal experts predict that fighting in view of a security camera may constitute a breach of player contracts, attracting unwelcome fines. (After all, if some dumb millionaire is going to get his jaw broken, bogans will want to watch it. And the AFL will want to ensure they get paid.) Perversely, this may be a far more effective deterrent than the "softly-softly" approach of star-struck police, who seem only too eager to chauffer players around, bungle investigations and generally refuse to make trouble for their AFL heroes.
In any case, these negotiations for security footage rights continue in secret and it's unlikely the final outcomes will be known until well into the New Year. So if you think you're about to get bashed by a footy player, smile and ask for his agent's number: you just might make it on to the telly.
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