Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, today tabled a new petition calling on the Federal Government and the ABC to continue the national television broadcasting of women’s sport, including the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) games.
At the last three Bendigo Spirit home games, Lisa Chesters and volunteers collected close to 2000 signatures from Bendigo Spirit fans. The petition calls on the House of Representatives to restore the $254 million in budget cuts to the ABC and support the ABC Board to continue televising women's sport including the WNBL.
In November last year ABC announced that as a result of the Federal Liberal Government cuts to ABC funding, the 2014/15 Wattle Valley WNBL season would be the last shown on ABC TV live around Australia.
This decision will end ABC’s 35-year broadcast of WNBL and their positive promotion of elite women’s basketball in Australia.
“There has been a fantastic response to the petition. The Bendigo Spirit Army, fans, players’ family members, Spirit board members and sponsors were more than happy to sign the petition.
“We listened to many proud Bendigo Spirit supporters who made comments such as:
‘I want to be able to watch Bendigo Spirit away games with my daughters on weekends like I watch the AFL games with my son.’
‘I want to be able to support elite women’s sport just as much as elite men’s sport with my children’
‘My daughter loves basketball. It’s disappointing to think she may have to go overseas to play at the elite level because we may not have an elite women’s league here in Australia’
It has been widely suggested that this decision “will drive out key sponsors and strip the team of half of its players” by coaches, players and Basketball Australia.
“I believe this decision will have a massive impact on women’s elite sport in this country," said Ms Chesters.
“I am concerned about the impact this decision will have on key sponsors and therefore, the ability of teams to be able to pay their players fair wages.
“I also believe that removing the national broadcast of the WNBL will have an impact on the showcasing of regional sporting hubs with elite sports teams such as our Bendigo Spirit.
“You cannot underestimate the impact simply mentioning “Bendigo Spirit” in a live broadcast has on our sporting reputation.
“Bendigo Spirit are currently back-to-back WNBL champions and this year could be a “hat trick” or three in a row, which is a huge achievement for regional sport.
“With the finals only a week away, now is the time for the Federal Government and the ABC Board to rethink their decision to axe the live broadcasting of the WNBL and other major women’s sports.”