For post-Brexit fishing rights, Belgium cites 1666 charter from King Charles II


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Charles II signed the document as a gesture to the city that gave him refuge after his father was beheaded during England’s Civil War in 1649, granting the citizens of Bruges, or “Civitas Brugensis”, the right to use 50 fishing boats in British waters.

While today Belgian boats no longer sail from Bruges but from nearby Zeebrugge, the document known as the Privilege is still valid, according to Hilde Crevits, economy minister of the Belgian region of Flanders.

“More than half of our fishing income comes from fish caught in British waters. So if we lose access to that British water or if our quotas go too far down, it could be the death knell for our fisheries,” Crevits told Reuters TV.

“As a consequence, if you have a very old document… where the king says you have the eternal right to sail with 50 boats in those coastal waters, yes then we will use that if necessary,” she said.

Belgian fishermen agree. Robert Campbell, a Belgian born to an English mother, said the local fishing industry would be decimated if Britain denied access.

“Where would we have to fish then? We can’t go anywhere,” Campbell said, standing in front of his red and white trawler. “I have hope in that document.”

Britain and the EU resumed their talks on Thursday on a post-Brexit trade deal, with fisheries among several sensitive issues still blocking the way to an agreement.

Britain has said other treaties superseed the charter, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which grants countries rights to their territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles and rule over economic zones up to 200 nautical miles.

Reuters



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Free Super Rugby game on Kayo part of Foxtel’s rugby rights bid


Sources familiar with RA’s rights negotiations confirmed Foxtel had pitched Super Rugby games being broadcast for free on Kayo as an alternative to an offer from Nine Entertainment Co. Foxtel declined to comment. Nine is the owner of the Herald.

Former RA boss Raelene Castle was determined to have more matches on free-to-air television to build a bigger fanbase. Until now, Foxtel could not attract large audiences because all of its channels are behind a paywall.

Part of Nine’s pitch – which caught RA’s attention given the governing body’s desire for more reach – is to play a Saturday night Super Rugby match each week live on one of its free-to-air channels.

However, no assurances have been given that each Saturday night match would be shown on Nine’s main channel. While Nine currently has a hole in its Saturday night offering through the winter months, the industry sources said the broadcaster would decide whether the match is played on its main channel or one of its alternate options on a week-to-week basis based on the teams playing and the performance of the sport overall.

Whether the matches appear on Nine, 9Go! or 9Gem isn’t expected to be a sore point for RA, given Super Rugby games have never been broadcast by a free-to-air network. under Nine’s proposal, Wallabies Tests, the Rugby Championship and a game of Super Rugby would air on the television network while other Super Rugby matches would be broadcast live on subscription streaming service Stan.

RA are yet to decide whether they will opt for more reach and take Nine’s $30 million offer or take the extra money on offer with Foxtel. RA declined to comment.

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Foxtel, which runs Fox Sports, has been the game’s primary partner for the last two decades and put in a bid two weeks ago. Industry sources previously said Foxtel offered between $35m and $40m to keep the broadcast rights, but others say the figure was smaller.

Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke, chairman Hamish McLennan and the respective state unions will meet via Zoom for their bi-annual meeting on Wednesday but a source familiar with the rights negotiations said it is “unlikely” a deal will have been struck in that time.

Meanwhile, negotiations between Nine and RA have been delayed as the broadcaster pushes for exclusivity of all Wallabies matches.

If Nine is the successful bidder, it wants to become the one-stop shop for all Wallabies matches in Australia – including their Spring Tour fixtures. Those matches are currently sold by the host unions such as England and France – not RA.

The Tests have in recent years been shown on beIN Sports and have been picked up by SBS, as incumbent free-to-air broadcaster Network Ten have shown little interest in the early morning matches.

Nine want RA to help broker the deal between the broadcaster and European unions to ensure all Wallabies Tests are run exclusively on the media and publishing company’s platforms.

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Jeremy Cameron, AFL trade news, rumours, whispers 2020: Giant to exercise free agency rights, Geelong deal, Chris Scott


UPDATE: Geelong coach Chris Scott spoke to GWS forward Jeremy Cameron within the last six weeks, as the Cats’ chase for the former Coleman medallist became “really tangible”.

Cameron told the Giants on Monday afternoon he wanted to explore his options as a restricted free agent. Scott learned around the same time Cameron wanted to become a Cat, picking them over a late-charging Collingwood.

The Cats, who are also preparing for a Grand Final this coming Saturday night, will almost certainly need to work out a trade with GWS, who can match any offer given to their restricted free agent.

Scott’s spoken to Giant

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Nine offers $30 million for rugby union broadcast rights


Former RA boss Raelene Castle was eager to get more free-to-air coverage for the sport to grow the sport’s audience. Nine’s offer is smaller than the bid incumbent broadcaster Foxtel made nearly two weeks ago. Industry sources familiar with the talks previously aid Foxtel had offered between $35-$40 million for the matches despite previous claims the pay TV operator did not believe the sport was worth that much. However, some Foxtel sources indicated they offered less than $35 million. Foxtel pays between $30 million to $40 million a year for the rights but was hoping to renegotiate price in the same way it landed new deals with the AFL and NRL.

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Foxtel has broadcast rugby games in Australia for two decades. The broadcaster, which runs Fox Sports, offered to sign a new five-year deal late last year but discussions fell apart earlier this year over the pricing. Foxtel has also reduced its rugby commentary budget in recent years and no longer has a mid-week show.

When talks first fell apart between RA and Foxtel earlier this year, Ms Castle approached Nine about a bid. A successful bid by Nine would also change the positioning of streaming service Stan, which currently runs international and local drama and film. Stan currently has 2 million subscribers, a large audience base for rugby union to try and attract. Kayo had 600,000 subscribers in September.

Any deal with the Nine would be short-term but if the involvement of Stan proves a success, it could open up the potential for other sports rights negotiations to include the streaming service in future. Such a move would put pressure on Foxtel which is heavily dependent on sport for subscribers.

Nine is the second free-to-air broadcaster to make an offer for the rights. Network Ten bid broadcast the Wallabies Tests last month but offered less than the $3.5 million a year it currently pays. Ten does not want to pay large amounts for the rights because of declining audiences. In 2015, the average audience for international Tests on Network Ten was about 345,000. In 2019 the audience figure was 194,000 and a lack of audience often results in less appeal for advertisers.

Network Ten’s chief sales officer Rod Prosser said last week low-rating sport was of no benefit to the broadcaster. “Sport obviously attract advertisers, and particularly blue chip advertisers in droves. What our clients are mostly in now is the audience [a sport] delivers. Having a low rating sport, just for the sake of sport, is of no benefit to me.”

One caveat on the value of the rights will be whether South Africa continues to participate in the Rugby Championship next year. South Africa confirmed last week it would not play in this year’s tournament but rugby sources have indicated it is considering playing in a Northern Hemisphere competition next year. The Rugby Championship is a highly lucrative competition for the governing body and the absence of South Africa will reduce its value. Interim RA boss Rob Clarke said late last week he was confident that the Springboks would not exit the Rugby Championship for good from next year.

Foxtel, Ten and BSkyB are at the end of a $285m five-year deal with RA signed in 2015. Securing a new deal is crucial for the financial security of the code (a large amount of RA’s revenue comes from broadcasters).



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How fishing rights became a major stumbling block in U.K.-EU trade negotiations


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Should Australian athletes boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games over China’s human rights record?


Should Australia heed the call from independent senator Rex Patrick and boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games because of China’s human rights record?

This week a group of delegates representing oppressed minorities in China sat down with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), 18 years after first requesting a meeting.

World Uyghur Congress program manager Zumretay Arkin says it was good to tell their stories to members like Juan Antonio Samaranch, who chairs the IOC’s coordination commission for the Beijing 2022 games, but she does not expect anything to change.

“Their main message was that they’re trying to build a world where athletes and international actors can come together to celebrate this one movement which is the Olympic movement.

“I think we were successful in letting them know that this world free of condemnation does not exist in the context of a genocide happening in China.”

More than 1 million Uyghurs are locked in detainment camps in Xinjiang Province, which the Chinese Government says is for training and education purposes.

Would Australian athletes be used as political footballs if the AOC boycotts the Games?(AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Ms Arkin says the IOC needs to understand this is not a “political issue”.

“This is about human rights. At the end of the day behind all these stories and statistics there are real people whose lives are impacted … the fact that they use this, it’s just that they don’t want to take action,” she said.

“I have uncles that have disappeared, I have an aunt who has been questioned by local authorities because of the work I do.

“I couldn’t talk to her even if I wanted to … even if I did have that option, I wouldn’t want to risk her life, so I choose not to.”

A call that divided Australia

The last time Australia was urged to boycott an Olympic Games was back in 1980.

Then-prime minister Malcolm Fraser took a call from US president Jimmy Carter who asked for Australia’s support in withdrawing from the games because of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.

It divided a nation.

Those who supported sending a team were labelled traitors and communists; athletes had death threats made against them while those who withdrew were offered individual payments of $6,000 each and some teams were offered hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Australian Olympic Federation, as it was then known, put the motion of a boycott to its executive.

It came down to a single vote, with the Federation opting to keep intact Australia’s unbroken record of competing at every summer Olympic Games since they began in 1896.

The pressure put on athletes was immense — some buckled under the pressure and those who went marched under the Olympic flag, not the Australian flag.

The Olympic rings pictured in front of the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The US led a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games protesting the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.(Reuters: Denis Balibouse)

Friendships were destroyed. For some, the scars never healed.

Former athlete and Australian IOC member at the time, Kevan Gosper, voted to support the boycott.

He says now it is “a regret”.

“It was 40 years ago, and we learn in time,” Mr Gosper told The Ticket.

“I was very new to the Olympic movement, I was still very much involved in commerce and politics and I saw the matter as a political issue rather than a sporting issue.

“I think there’s nothing to be gained by having politics interfere with the values of sport, particularly the global level, and I would certainly be against any argument that would suggest we should boycott the 2022 Beijing Games.”

Captain of the 1980 swim team Lisa Forrest wrote about perhaps the most controversial moment in Australian sport in her book titled Boycott.

“It split the nation on Labor-Liberal party lines,” she said.

“Once I was selected for the team … we lived with a whistle by the telephone because our death threats came by phone.

“My sister was in year six, kids would come to school and call her a communist because that’s what the parents were saying.

“Mum would be on the side of the netball court and other mothers were asking, ‘how could she let her daughter go to the Games?’

“It caused real trouble … there were all sorts of ruptures.”

‘Athletes being used as political footballs’

Zali Steggall addresses the media while speaking in a hall with murals
Independent MP Zali Steggall says it’s not fair for athletes to bear the responsibility of a boycott.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall was Australia’s first individual medallist at a winter games, winning bronze in the slalom at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in Japan.

“I guess I’ve got the benefit of both perspectives, of being an athlete … and then looking at it with a bit more maturity now, having been a lawyer caring very much about human rights and looking at it politically,” Ms Steggall said.

“The Government has taken a reasonably strong stance in relation to China and there is no doubt there are very concerning abuses of human rights occurring.

“But I do think we have a whole range of ways in which we can diplomatically take steps in relation to a country that’s got systemic abuses of human rights.

“I don’t think it’s fair to ask the athletes … of bearing the responsibility on this.

Olympics targeted due to its prestigious nature

Senator Patrick says he is calling for the Government and the Australian Olympic Committee to boycott the games and for the organisation and athletes to be compensated.

“I am calling on leadership within the Government and within the AOC to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing,” Mr Patrick said.

He says the Olympics has been targeted, ahead of other industries and sports such as the AFL which travels to China each year, because of the “particularly prestigious” nature of the Games.

“It is used by host countries to promote prestige, to promote their own standing as a member of the global community and unfortunately in this instance the Chinese Communist Party are behaving in a manner that is inconsistent with international values.”

A close up shot of Rex Patrick speaking. He is wearing a suit.
Independent senator Rex Patrick has been outspoken on the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

Senator Patrick also recommended financial compensation for the AOC and the athletes should they withdraw, which AOC president Don Coates has describes as an attempt to bribe them.

Senator Patrick rejects that as a misrepresentation.

“I’m aware of the boycott in Moscow … that was a separate event, we now have a new set of circumstances.

“What’s happening in China is particularly concerning, it crosses a line Australians ought not to accept.

“We shouldn’t have our own athletes standing up lending their good names and their good character to a regime that has conducted itself in the manner that it has.”

“I am not asking or calling for athletes to make a decision about a boycott on the basis of some payment that is made to them.”

Lisa Forrest argues, “when it comes to human rights abuses there are many ways to protest”.

“Calling out another country on human rights abuse when we’re talking about deaths in custody, not recognising the Uluru statement of the heart, the refugee situation, I think it’s the pot calling the kettle black.

“Where do you want to start with that?”

Kevan Gosper says the IOC should maintain its course.

“Yes. Be smarter, do it better, but watch out for torpedos.

“The boycott issue is a torpedo and you’d better be wary of it.”



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Nine’s $30m TV gamble, broadcast rights, Bledisloe


Channel 9 is weighing up whether to spend $30 million for the broadcast rights to Australian rugby games as the code remains in limbo when it comes to settling on a new TV deal.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Nine Entertainment Co is in “advanced talks” with Rugby Australia (RA) about coming to terms on a deal that would see the sport Down Under broadcast on free-to-air TV as well as on streaming service Stan.

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The Australian first reported last month Nine had emerged as a candidate to save rugby as the code struggled to find a TV partner to generate desperately-needed revenue.

At the time, it was reported Nine had not made a formal offer or publicly expressed a strong desire to establish a relationship with rugby. In August, Nine CEO Hugh Marks said investing in rugby was “not a big priority” for the network — which already broadcasts rugby league and the Australian Open tennis — and added: “We are getting a long more bang for our buck out of content that is either news and current affairs … or entertainment.”

But the network appears to have changed its mind as it ponders swooping in to win the TV rights after all.

Last month Channel 10 — the long-time free-to-air rugby broadcaster — put in a bid to show Wallabies matches but wanted a discount from RA. It reportedly offered less than its current deal of $3.5 million a year to show Wallabies Tests.

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Foxtel is also keen to extend its 20-year relationship with rugby, reportedly submitting a bid of between $30m and $40m a year to televise Wallabies games, Super Rugby and the National Rugby Championship.

The offer came after Foxtel threatened to walk away from the negotiating table altogether as talks with RA broke down late last year.

Like Foxtel, Nine’s proposal would include the rights to broadcast Wallabies matches, Super Rugby and the National Rugby Championship. Although financially its bid isn’t as lucrative as Foxtel’s, The Herald reports RA approached Nine to gauge its interest in televising the sport, and is keen on working with the network because it would allow more Australians to consume its product via free-to-air TV, rather than on pay TV with Foxtel.

The length of any deal RA strikes is reportedly set to last for less than five years.

Former RA CEO Raelene Castle stood down in April under immense pressure as she failed to strike a TV deal before COVID-19 turned everything on its head.

She was confident of coming to terms with Optus, having shunned an earlier offer from Foxtel because she believed she could get more money elsewhere. But the global pandemic meant her dream deal never eventuated and the code faced financial ruin.



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Rugby Australia looks to strike rights deal with Nine


Under the deal, Nine would broadcast Super Rugby, Wallabies matches and the National Rugby Championship across its free-to-air network and subscription streaming service Stan. A deal could also result in a tournament such as the State of Union (a format similar to State of Origin, which runs on Nine) being aired on the network. Any deal with the media company would be short-term, lasting for less than five years. Representatives for Nine and RA declined to comment.

Nine is hoping to do a deal with Rugby Australia for the broadcast rights to Super Rugby, Wallabies matches and the National Rugby Championship.

Nine is hoping to do a deal with Rugby Australia for the broadcast rights to Super Rugby, Wallabies matches and the National Rugby Championship.Credit:Getty

Former Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle was determined to get more free-to-air coverage for the sport. Broadcasting any number of Super Rugby matches on free-to-air would help the sport reach a large amount of viewers, while Stan, as a subscription product, would provide loyal fans with extended match coverage.

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If Nine progresses with its bid it would dramatically change the positioning of online streaming service Stan, which currently runs a mix of international and local drama and film. Stan, which has about 2 million subscribers, turned its focus to local content in August in a bid to reduce its dependence on Hollywood studios and fight back against global streaming services that have entered Australia.

The move would be a first in Australia, with a sport finding a home on a streaming-video-on-demand service. The deal would follow the likes of Amazon Prime, which secured the rights to the Autumn Nations Cup last month.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks refused to rule out a bid at the company’s full-year results.

“There’s a lot of work that rugby has to do before any broadcaster can get their head around [whether that is] an investment we are prepared to make for long-term gains,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in August. “Something like rugby would require us to go into an investment phase to build it over five years to be a result. In the scheme of things we have at the moment, it’s not a big priority.”

The Australian first reported a deal could be done with Nine in September. But RA jumped the gun when it told other bidders that Nine had already made a formal offer.

Fearful that Nine would make an aggressive play, industry sources said Foxtel made an offer of between $35m and $40m, despite previous claims the pay TV operator did not need the sport. Foxtel declined to comment.The broadcaster, which runs Fox Sports, offered to sign a new five-year deal late last year, but discussions fell apart over the pricing and it looked as though Foxtel was prepared to sever its two-decade long relationship altogether. In recent years Foxtel, which is jointly owned by News Corp and Telstra, has cut back on its rugby commentary budget and does not have a mid-week magazine show.

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Foxtel pays between $30m to $40m a year for rugby rights, but was hoping to renegotiate the price. It has already secured a discount on its rights for the AFL and NRL and is trying to renegotiate its deal with Cricket Australia. Foxtel’s attempts to secure reductions are similar to other attempts by Nine and Seven West Media, which have argued the value of the sports have reduced because of factors related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nine’s discussions also come despite an offer by Network Ten to broadcast the Wallabies Tests. The free-to-air broadcaster, which holds the rights, offered less than its current payment of about $3.5m a year. One of the reasons Nine and Ten do not want to pay large amounts for free-to-air rights is because of declining audiences. In 2015, the average audience for international Tests on Network Ten was about 345,000. In 2019 the audience figure was 194,000 and a lack of audience often results in less appeal for advertisers. Telco provider Optus, once considered the front-runner, did not express a formal interest in the revised broadcast rights package when it was released last month.​

Foxtel, Ten and BSkyB are at the end of a $285m five-year deal with RA signed in 2015. Securing a new deal is crucial for the financial security of the code (a large amount of RA’s revenue comes from broadcasters). RA is expected to make a final decision in the next couple of weeks.

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Foxtel lodges bid for rugby union broadcast rights


Foxtel, Ten and BSkyB are at the end of a $285 million five-year deal with RA signed in 2015. Securing a new deal is crucial for the code as it provides financial certainty and a large amount of RA’s revenue comes from the money from broadcasters. The code is also trying to secure a new sponsor after Qantas ended its 30-year-long relationship last week.

A successful bid by Foxtel would put an end to a tumultuous period between the News Corp-controlled pay TV company and RA. The broadcaster, which runs Fox Sports, offered to sign a new five-year deal late last year but discussions fell apart over the pricing. At the time, it looked as though Foxtel was prepared to sever the lengthy relationship.

Former RA boss Raelene Castle took the offer to market and telco Optus came close to signing a deal before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Foxtel’s bid follows an offer from Network Ten to broadcast the Wallabies Tests. International Tests played in Australia and New Zealand, and all matches of the rugby World Cup that involve Australia, must be broadcast on free-to-air television under anti-siphoning laws. The free-to-air broadcaster, which holds the rights, bid for them again but offered less than its current payment of about $3.5 million a year. The length of the deal and the potential to pick up new game formats are still on the cards.

Should the two bids succeed, rugby fans would experience little change to the way the sport is broadcast, but there may be others looking to secure a deal. Nine, the owners of this masthead, is still in talks with the code about whether it can make a deal work and is watching the negotiation process closely.

Amazon, which recently secured the rights to a one-off Eight Nations tournament in Europe, previously declined to comment on whether it was involved in the local tender process. Amazon Prime’s local boss Arno Lenior was head of marketing at Samsung when it became the major sponsor of Ten’s Sochi Winter Olympics. Hamish McLennan, former Ten chief executive and current chair of RA, secured the Sochi deal.

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Industry sources previously said Amazon Prime was interested in the rights. Optus, once considered the front-runner, did not express a formal interest in the revised broadcast rights package when it was released last month.

The news comes as New Zealand announced it will reprise the domestic Super Rugby Aotearoa competition in 2021 without Australian or Pacific islands teams.

New Zealand Rugby had hoped to include a team from the Pacific islands for next year’s tournament and invited expressions of interest from Australia. However, NZR chairman Brett Impey said the pandemic had shelved those plans.



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China dismisses concerns over human rights abuses tarnishing Winter Olympics


China’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed claims by British, Australian and European MPs that it should be stripped of the 2022 Winter Olympics because of its actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Wang Wenbin, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said concerns raised by members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China went against the spirit of the Olympic charter and impeded the progress of global human rights. He added that his country’s actions had been approved by many countries at a recent UN Human Rights Council session.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. Credit:AP

In July at the UN, 53 countries including North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Antigua, Pakistan and Sudan backed Beijing’s new national security laws for Hong Kong. However, at least 40 of them were signatories to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. Australia, Canada, the US and most of Europe issued a statement criticising the law.

Earlier this week British MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and former leader of the Conservative Party in Britain, said that the IOC should rethink Beijing hosting the 2022 Games.



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