Australian Football on US and Canadian Television Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

Version 1.20
Last updated: 30 August 1996
Prepared by: Rob de Santos (73320.3575@compuserve.com), 
Vienna, WV USA 

Part I: News and updates of the Campaign

Please! If you reply to this FAQ do NOT quote the entire FAQ! For current news and TV schedules, contact the author and request the latest "Update".

Q: What is the history of the Campaign?

A: Beginning in mid-February fans campaigned to save TV coverage in North America. Thousands of fans took part in a coordinated effort to insure that some coverage of AFL continued here in the US and Canada.

Last fall, as a result of the inconsistent scheduling, skipped weeks, and unhappy advertisers, the AFL sought out ESPN instead of Prime. They made a handshake deal and then things seem to have ground to a halt. Exactly why ESPN and the AFL did not close the deal can only be speculated about but when it became clear in mid-February that no TV was a possibility the campaign was formed. The campaign was a success, as the two parties began talking again and a legal deal was reached.

On Monday evening, 8 April, I received the following message from Grant Burgess, Marketing Director of the AFL:
"G'day Rob,
Good news for you and all those Aussie Rules fans in the US. We have concluded a deal with ESPN. Our one hour highlights program will be shown 0630 on Saturday on ESPN2. It will commence asap. Thanks for your support and persistence. Regards, Grant Burgess, AFL."

It appears that this means 6:30 AM EDT. ESPN confirmed the deal on 12 April with this unsigned message: "We will be carrying it on ESPN2 on Saturday mornings. As of right now we do not have a start date. Thanks."

From early April, it was a waiting game for fans and an ongoing effort to get a firm start date and schedule from ESPN and the AFL.

ESPN SportsZone stated on 31 May as they did on 13 May and numerous other times:
"A highlight show on ESPN2 is scheduled for Saturday mornings at 6:30 am ET, beginning July 6."

This appears to have been the wording of the SportsZone response to any inquiry on the subject. The 6 July date appears to have been either a public relations idea to deflect pressure on this issue or the real date all along. Even though this date was issued by SportsZone within a week of the deal we were repeatedly told by ESPN management that it was in error.

From mid-May there were a series of messages from ESPN indicating that the time slot "has been available" and is 6:30 am EDT on Saturday. ESPN said they were 'ready to air the programs once the problem is resolved'. This did not happen and the AFL indicated they were attempting to resolve ESPN's on-going concerns about theme music licensing and program format.

The highlights program finally did begin on ESPN2 on 6 July with coverage o Round 5.

Q: Does this mean we will see all of the rounds prior to the Grand Final?
A: It appears that coverage is running about four weeks behind. The latest schedule from ESPN shows all of the 22 week regular season highlights will be shown prior to the Grand Final but when the highlights of the first three weeks of finals will be shown has not been indicated.

Q. How do I help out the campaign?
A. You can help the campaign by contacting ESPN and the AFL and urging them to air all of the Highlight shows before the Grand Final and show the Grand Final live. Fans are also encouraged to contact ESPN and the AFL and thank them for showing the Highlights. Full contact information is later in this FAQ.

Q: Will we have Grand Final coverage live?
A: It seems unlikely, but ESPN has not made any statement about when the Grand Final will be shown. The resolution of technical issues in the program feed appeared to be the significant issue. I spoke with Grant Burgess of the AFL on 22 August and he indicated that the AFL did not believe ESPN would be taking the game live but this was not confirmed. Live coverage of the Grand Final was part of the original verbal deal between the AFL and ESPN.

As of 22 August, Michelle Marchingo of Seven Network in Melbourne indicated that deals are still be finalised with international broadcasters but the information they have is: "USA: Will be shown on ESPN. Times will be advised." I have asked Seven Network to provide the satellites and transponders which will carry the Grand Final but so far they have not done so.

Q: Is Prime still considering coverage?
A: On 20 April, Craig Sanders, PR director of Prime, wrote to me: "Our latest information is that ESPN will televise the AFL this season and Prime will not air any contests." Based on that response, we may assume that Prime will not have footy coverage in 1996. This applies to all Prime affiliates. It was announced on 2 July that the combination of Prime Sports and fsx Sports will be renamed FOX Sports Net. It will be a joint venture of News Corp., Liberty Media, and TCI.

Prime is again this year airing the weekly sport magazine program "Trans World Sport". This program usually carries a brief AFL segment 40 to 45 minutes into the program. My local Prime outlet (KBL) airs it Wednesdays at 9:00 AM EDT and some other Prime affiliates air it Fridays at 1:30 PM. Check your local listings or check:

Q: Is it true Rex Hunt has replaced Stephen Quartermain as host of the highlights?
A: Yes, Rex Hunt was hired to provide a more Australian flavor to the show. Reaction to Mr. Hunt is mixed and it appears as if Hunt has toned down his style a bit for the international audience.

Q: Has the show changed in format from previous years?
A: The basic show is similar to that seen on Prime in previous seasons. Besides the new host, changes include: more time is being spent on the featured game at the expense of other matches, the host is not in a studio, there is a travel highlights segment on Australia and ESPN2 graphics replaced Channel 7 Australia graphics. The ESPN2 "bottom line2" score trailer is also present but highly unpopular. ESPN has said it will not be present next season as it will move to the new ESPNEWS network. Fans have noted some rough cuts in the commercial breaks, misspellings in the graphics, and incorrect scores on the graphics. Earlier rounds contained an "Up Close" ground level feature which has not been seen recently.

Q: What about next season ('97)?
A: At this early stage, ESPN has indicated their intention to provide coverage next year in a better time slot on ESPN2. You can be assured that as soon as this season is over I will be in touch with the AFL and ESPN to assure we don't have a repeat of this next year. If a campaign proves necessary we will start as soon as it appears we are in trouble. *ALL* of us have an obligation to watch the programs in 1996 and patronize the advertisers so that ESPN knows it was worth it and wants to continue. It wouldn't be a bad idea to send a round of thank-you's after the season ends to let the AFL and ESPN know we appreciated the coverage.

Q: Where can I get TV schedules?
A: Semi-reliable schedules are available from the ESPN web site. Schedules in issues of "Orbit", "The Cable Guide" as well as a number of newspaper and local TV Guides are most likely dated as their deadlines are 3 to 5 weeks ahead of publication. I asked Marc Krigsman, former ESPN Programming Manager, about this and on 26 June, he wrote in part: "The online info is the most up to date". Unfortunately, the web site itself is not maintained as well as it could be.

The typical schedule is Saturday at 5:30 AM EDT, 6:00 AM EDT, or 6:30 AM EDT (US).

To receive the most accurate known schedule, request to be put on the author's Update e-mail list or contact Patrick Stoddard (stoddard@aztec.asu.edu). The author posts the schedules to the same places as this FAQ. The most current ESPN2 schedules publicly released are on the web.

Q: What about Canadian coverage on TSN?
A: The AFL attempted to arrange coverage with TSN without success. Canadians who wish to support the effort to restore coverage are urged to contact Charlie Micallef (ac386@torfree.net) or Debbie Charter (dcharter@micro.uoguelph.ca). Gael Narraine of TSN told Charlie M. on 19 April that "we get requests all the time for Australian Rules Football". Charlie also reports that TSN is 20% owned by ESPN.

Regarding Canadian coverage of the Grand Final, on 20 August, an unsigned message from TSN said in part:

"In the past, TSN has acquired the rights to the coverage of the playoffs and final through ESPN and broadcasted these games on a live basis. As ESPN no longer holds the rights, TSN will be forced to pick up the coverage via another source. Due to this fact, it is unlikely that our coverage will consist of anything more than the Grand Final on a tape delayed basis. The tentative date for the broadcast of the Australian Rules Grand final is Sunday October 20."

I believe that TSN meant "Prime" where "ESPN" was stated above but I have no response to my request for clarification.

"Heather" at Audience Relations told Charlie M. on 23 August that 'there have been complications in arranging a live feed of the Grand Final'. She was unaware of any scheduled tape delay in October. Heather also suggested that the [first three weeks of] finals would also not likely be shown for the same reasons.

The CRTC in Canada is expected to decide by 12 September whether TSN or CTV will be granted a second channel. TSN would expect to then have an "eastern" and a "western" feed with some regional programming beginning in 1997. AFL highlights might be shown only on the western feed depending on ratings. This would be ironic since there is a league (CAFA) based in Toronto!

Grant Burgess of the AFL indicated on 22 August that he had no word from TSN but TSN had been interested in taking the game live.

Michelle Marchingo of Seven Network said on 22 August: "Canada: At the moment they [the AFL} are organising a deal with T.S.N. for live coverage. But there will be a highlights package shown."

Canadians may contact TSN at: audiencerelations@tsn.ca

Q. How do I contact ESPN and the AFL?
A. ESPN can be reached at:
The ESPN web page is: http://ESPNet.SportsZone.com
Mail may be left by navigating thru the pages or save time and send it directly to: ESPNET1@espn.com
ESPN has a viewer comment line at: Tele: 860-585-2236
ESPN TV schedules are available via: http://ESPNET.SportsZone.com/editors/studios/espn-tv.html
The September schedules are at: http://ESPNET.SportsZone.com/editors/studios/listings/ESPN2/0996/
The web schedules agree with the schedules provided by Mr. Magnus of ESPN. October schedules are not yet available

(Note: online television schedules are also available at: http://www.tvguide.com and http://www.tv1.com)

The key executives at ESPN responsible for programming are:

Burke Magnus, Programming Associate
Tele: 860-585-2000
Fax:  860-585-2415

E-mail: magnusb@espn.com

 

and his boss, John Wildhack, Senior VP, Programming
Tele: 860-585-2370
Fax:  860-585-2415

E-mail: wildhackj@espn.com

ESPN has reportedly received as many as 50 messages a day regarding AFL coverage!

The AFL web site has a feedback page and you can send an e-mail complaint that way. To go directly to the feedback page the web address is: http://www.cadability.com.au/AFL/feedback/

The AFL offices can be reached at:

Australian Football League
GPO Box 1449N
Melbourne, VIC 3001
Australia

Tele: (61) 3-9654-1244
Fax:  (61) 3-9654-1143

e-mail: AFL@c031.aone.net.au

Direct your AFL communications to: Ross Oakley, the CEO, Tony Peek, Communications Manager, and Grant Burgess, Marketing Manager.

If you feel like an old fashioned "Letter to the Editor" try writing:
The Melbourne Age mriekert@theage.com.au
or
The Sun hseditor@ozemail.com.au
or
The Australian Online cwalters@newscorp.com.au

Q: I don't get ESPN2, we didn't succeed.
A: As I have said throughout the campaign, I recognize that ESPN2 is not a perfect solution. Only about half of the cable companies in the US carry ESPN2 and many of the rest no longer have any free channels. A perfect solution would have been full game coverage on a broadcast network, but at this stage that was never realistic. The goal of the campaign was to save TV coverage in the US and we did that. Mini satellite dishes with services such as DirecTV and PrimeStar are options for those who can afford this and have the space for a 18 inch dish. The regular satellite dishes can pick up ESPN2 on Galaxy 5/Channel 14 with an alternate feed on Galaxy 1. And don't forget to write your cable company to ask them to add ESPN2 if they don't currently carry it, so that your desires are on file. Also, keep in mind that programming on ESPN2 is often replayed at a later time on ESPN. If you have friends who live in surrounding areas with a different cable company perhaps you can get them to tape the programs for you. Another possibility is to convince your local pub or sports bar to tape the programs for replay when you and your friends are in the establishment.

Q: What about exhibition games?
A: Several folks have suggested we ask the AFL to again consider scheduling an exhibition game in the US and I think that is a fine idea. Anyone who wishes to write the AFL about this is encouraged to do so. The AFL apparently was involved in negotiations late last season to stage an exhibition during the Super Bowl week in January but those negotiations were abandoned for unknown reasons. Following this, the AFL told some US fans that an US exhibition was not in their present plans. The AFL has not announced any plans for exhibitions following the current season.

Q: What do we know about Peter Maddern and Young's Publishing House? How do we get footy merchandise?
A: Peter has returned to Australia for personal and business reasons. Consequently, the telephone and fax numbers in Chicago have been disconnected. I also understand that his Australian Grand Final Tour has been cancelled.

Two sources of footy gear and materials are:

Gowanna Multi-media
Mel Eperthener
419 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15223
Tele: 800-376-5232
or: 412-781-6140
or: 412-781-0685

e-mail: bcassidy@usaor.net http://www.webz.com/gowanna

Gowanna is working with Peter Maddern in Adelaide and is selling AFL related merchandise. They are the de-facto replacement of Young's Publishing House. Gowanna has merchandise in stock including videos of some of the best games of last season, footballs, clothing, and CD-ROMs.

 

McBains Cloth Company
1875 Branigan Road
Beloit, WI  53511
Tele:  800-699-1140
or:  608-363-5126 
Fax: 608-365-1140

e-mail: jpatch@earth.inwave.com http://webz.com/AFL/

McBain's is the USA representative for the Full Boar line of AFL shirts and wall hangings. The web site has excellent graphics of these shirts. Cool Bananas is no longer selling the Full Boar line.

E-mail these firms to be added to their mailing list or check out their web sites. Support footy in North America by patronizing these firms.

Q: What about RealAudio and footy by the 'net?
A: After being absent all season, WiredAudio PTY, Ltd. has arranged a netcast of the AFL finals. Full details will be carried in the Updates and were not available at press time for this FAQ.

Kick AM in Sydney is carrying Swans games at: http://www.kick-am.com.au/javaindex.html for those with Java capable browsers, for others: http://www.kick-am.com.au/nojindex.html

Both sites require RealAudio V2.0 and a Frames capable browser. Several campaigners have been able to follow matches involving Sydney that way. Also available are Radio Australia broadcasts when they are carried by the World Radio Network at: http://www.wrn.org/pav_real.html

Live WRN requires Streamworks software but recorded playback providing some sports reports and replays is available by RealAudio. Some cable companies carry WRN on their audio services.

WRN also carries Radio Australia from 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM and 12:00 NN to 1:00 PM, all times EDT, on the Galaxy 5 satellite, channel 6, at 3820 MHz, subcarrier 6.8MHz and Telstar 303, channel 22, at 4160 MHz, subcarrier 6.2MHz.

Q: What sources of game information are available?
A: Game summaries with an Australian flair are prepared by Tim Murphy (tim.murphy@med.monash.edu.au) and available at:

Aussie Rules net sites with many links are:

  • Darryl Harvey's: http://www.footy.com.au/dags/
    Darryl maintains a copy of this FAQ at his site.
  • Greg Forrester's: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~statware
  • Steve McDonald's: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~sboyd/fanpage.htm
  • The Official AFL Home Page: http://www.afl.com.au/
  • The Club10 Page: http://www.club10.com.au/home2.html
  • Two sites with information on the Midwest Australian Rules Football League are:

    Most clubs have official and unofficial pages linked to one or more of the above pages.

    For North Americans who would like to receive detailed summaries of each round and footy news, Lisa from Chicago has a mailing list you can join. E-mail her at: Ausfooty@aol.com Be sure to indicate that you want to join her footy mailing list.

    There is an AFL Listserv you can join. It averages 10-20 messages per day. Send a message with the subject: SUBSCRIBE

    Members of CompuServe can check out the Pacific Forum (GO PACIFIC) and check Australian Associated Press reports in the Executive News Service (GO ENS) where you can set up a clipping file. And of course, the Usenet newsgroups rec.sports.football.australian and aus.sport.aussie-rules continue to be fine sources of information.

    On shortwave, especially for those in the western North America and Hawaii, Radio Australia carries Grandstand from 0210 to 0800 UTC Saturday (7:10 PM PDT Friday to 1:00 AM PDT Saturday). All remaining times are UTC and all frequencies are kHz. 0001 UTC is 8:01 PM EDT of the previous day. The best frequencies to try are: 15365 (2200-0800) and 15240 (0000-0800). Sometimes you can also hear: 9660, 12080, 17880USB, 17715. Propagation allowed 15365 and 15240 to come in well some weekends here in West Virginia but only after 0400. Fans in eastern NA should try those frequencies. RA plans on covering the Grand Final on its Grandstand frequencies. They will be adding one additional frequency for Grand Final coverage which will be targeted at eastern and central North America: 11880 from 0400-0730 (12:00 MN-3:30 AM EDT). Regular programming will be carried on 11880 except for the GF.

    The regular RA programs carry sports reports following some newscasts. The best times are 0830 and 1910 UTC on weekends; and 0310, 0810, 1915 weekdays; 1120, 1410, and 1720 daily. These can be heard even in the eastern US on the above frequencies plus try 13755 (0100-0400), 12080 (1430-2130, 2300-0000), 11880 (0400-0730, 1700-2130), 9860 (0600-1230, 1530-2130), 9580 (0730-1200, 1230-2100) 9710 (1200-1230), 11800 (1230-1700), 6060 (1430-1830), 6020 (0800-0900), 5995 (0800-0900, 1200-1700), 17860 (2130-0100), 11695 (2130-0000, 0030-0400 (0030-0800 weekends)). RA can be reached at: raust3@ozemail.com.au

    Good viewing!

    -Rob de Santos
    -Vienna, WV USA
    -73320.3575@compuserve.com

    All trademarks and copyrights are properties of their respective owners. This update is copyright Robin K. de Santos, Vienna, WV USA. It may quoted or reprinted only for the purposes of furthering coverage of Australian football coverage in the USA.

    Part I: News and Updates


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    Author: Darryl Harvey email: {dags@netspace.net.au}
    Last Updated: 2 September 1996

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