Lee Gaskin August 18, 2012
Don't bother looking to see Lauren Jackson live on TV during the upcoming WNBL season. Photo: Pat Scala
Basketball ACT chief executive Tony Jackson has attacked the game's governing body for the reduction of free-to-air television coverage of the WNBL.
He also accused Basketball Australia of missing a golden opportunity to capitalise on the return of superstar Lauren Jackson (no relation) and the impressive performances of Australia's men's and women's teams at the London Olympic Games by succumbing to the whims of the national broadcaster.
Tony Jackson believed a move from a weekly two-hour replay or live game on the ABC to a one-hour condensed version of the WNBL's match of the round was a fait accompli, although BA has denied that's the case.
Football Federation Australia has already confirmed it has, in conjuction with the ABC, agreed to switch its weekly live two-hour broadcast of the W-League to a one-hour package on Saturday afternoon.
It is understood the ABC has proposed to show the WNBL from 4-5pm, followed by the W-League from 5-6pm in order to attract increased television ratings for both sports.
While admitting the new time slot would be beneficial to attracting a larger audience, Jackson was disappointed there was minimal consultation from BA about the change.
''Unfortunately, although the WNBL like to promote that they consult us, [in] most instances they don't,'' he said.
''This is a case where we went to a meeting not too long ago and were told this is what is probably going to happen.
''That was pretty much about it, which was quite disappointing.
''It's a concern, because I thought if we - the league and women's basketball - would have a better stance with the ABC and a stronger position to negotiate, it would be this year.
''I don't think they [BA] have used that position of strength and leverage to push the ABC.''
Jackson said the momentum gained from the bronze-medal winning Opals and the Boomers were the perfect springboards for basketball to grab a stronger foothold in the Australian sporting landscape.
Highlights in London included Elizabeth Cambage becoming the first woman to dunk at the Olympic Games, Belinda Snell's incredible buzzer beater from beyond halfway and Patty Mills's match-winning three-pointer to beat Russia.
Lauren Jackson had an Olympic Games she will never forget before she rejoins the Canberra Capitals for the upcoming WNBL season after she was given the honour of carrying the Australian flag at the opening ceremony and breaking the all-time scoring record for the tournament.
Basketball ACT, along with the ACT government and other sponsors, including BA, have contributed to the $1 million Jackson will receive for playing three of the next four seasons with the Capitals.
Tony Jackson said the diminished free-to-air television coverage would hurt the impact his namesake's return would have in generating increased exposure for the game.
''With Lauren coming back this year and the people of Canberra investing so much in that … it's hugely disappointing,'' he said.
''Canberra was going to feature prominently in the televised games wherever we played.
''That's why you do things like invest in Lauren, to improve that profile, not only for us, but the whole sport.''
BA chief executive Kristina Keneally said negotiations with the ABC were still continuing.
''The reality is the media landscape is changing,'' Keneally said.
''Digital broadcasting, internet and free to air are all part of that changing media landscape.
''We are very optimistic given that the ABC has been such a strong supporter of women's basketball for the past 30 years.''