Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters is thrilled to announce a Federal Labor Government will get local Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) team, the Bendigo Spirit, back on TV with a new Women’s Sport ABC Broadcasting funding commitment.
Labor announced today that it will provide $21 million in funding to the ABC to increase coverage of women’s sport on both television and digital platforms by approximately 500 live hours over the next four years.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s savage cuts to the national broadcaster contributed to the ABC’s decision to cut its regular broadcasts of women’s sport including the WNBL.
In November 2014, the 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 ended ABC’s 35-year broadcast of WNBL and their positive promotion of elite women’s basketball in Australia.
"At the time, I launched a petition and there was a fantastic response. Bendigo Spirit Army, fans, players’ family members, Spirit board members and sponsors were more than happy to sign the petition," said Ms Chesters.
"We heard from 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's fair to say that since losing their television broadcasting, the WNBL and the Bendigo Spirit, have struggled to attract key new sponsors and therefore, the ability of teams to be able to pay their players fair wages," said Ms Chesters.
"Restoring 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.
"This is a fantastic Labor announcement for the Bendigo Spirit, women's elite sport and our national broadcaster ABC.