ABSTRACT

It has often been claimed that Australia is a country that has an especially close and enduring attachment to sport. In Richard Cashman’s (2010) eponymous book title, Australia has been perceived as a “Paradise of Sport,” while Daryl Adair and Wray Vamplew (1997, p. ix) open their book Sport in Australian History with the proposition that “Sport has long been a central feature of Australian popular culture-so much so that enthusiasm for sport has been described widely as characteristic of being Australian.” Whether such typifi cations of Australia can be sustained by comparative international empirical evidence is not of specifi c concern here, nor are the causes (variously ascribed, separately and in combination, to convict and colonial history, masculinity, climate, and cultural isolation-see, for example, Stoddart 1986). What can be ascertained, the subject of this chapter and book, is that there is no developed television sport environment in the world that is more heavily protected than Australia. The reason for this arrangement is, primarily, a combination of two forces: the power of the popular demand to maintain premium sport on free-to-air television and the political infl uence of the commercial terrestrial television sector, especially of the Nine Network (which routinely claims to be the most important sport broadcaster) and, in particular, of its most powerful fi gure, the late Kerry Packer (who died in December 2005).