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Canberra Raiders campaign for equality in free-to-air television and funding

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Raiders chief executive Don Furner says the club will fight to block any moves by Channel Nine to scrap fixed scheduling and says Canberra hopes to receive future compensation for a lack of free-to-air coverage.

Sunday's match against the Melbourne Storm will be the first Raiders home game at Canberra Stadium to be televised on free-to-air broadcaster Channel Nine since the 2012 elimination final against the Cronulla Sharks – a blackout of 588 days.

Channel Nine boss David Gyngell has indicated he wants to scrap fixed scheduling because it doesn't allow them enough flexibility to broadcast form teams and select blockbuster matches.

Canberra Raiders chief Don Furner.

Canberra Raiders chief Don Furner. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Fixed scheduling was only introduced last season, locking in the first 20 rounds and enabling some movement in the final six weeks.  

But Furner said the Raiders would contest any move to scrap fixed scheduling and revealed there were moves within NRL ranks to potentially compensate clubs who were being disadvantaged by a lack of free-to-air coverage.

The Raiders are consistently one of the most ignored clubs on Channel Nine. They had one game broadcast on free-to-air television last season, an away match, and have been granted three in the first 20 rounds this year. Only the New Zealand Warriors received less.

The Raiders re-signed sleeve sponsor Defence Housing Australia during the week and are in negotiations to extend major sponsor Huawei beyond this year.

But Furner said the lack of free-to-air television coverage made it tougher for clubs such as the Raiders to attract sponsors. The Brisbane Broncos received 13 Channel Nine games in the first 20 rounds this season.

Furner revealed the NRL was in discussion for a disequal funding model, which could compensate inequities such as free-to-air television exposure.

The NRL refused to comment, a spokesman  saying it was premature of the Raiders to discuss such a model.

The AFL have a disequal funding model, which also compensates some interstate teams outside Victoria with living-away-from-home allowances. 

"It's certainly not an even playing field when we're getting three [games] and others are getting 23,'' Furner said. "We'll always be jumping up and down about that ... it's certainly an inequality in the game.

"It's no mystery the Broncos obviously get a lot more sponsorship revenue than we do because they're on Channel Nine every Friday night. I know the NRL are looking at a disequal funding model, one of the major factors in there is the disproportionate amount of free-to-air games. I think we'll benefit down the track, but it would be fairer if we were on [free-to-air] more.

"They're looking at lots of different factors in their new model and I know one of them is the lack of equality in free-to-air coverage."

The NRL signed a billion dollar television rights deal with Channel Nine and Fox Sports in 2012, with fixed scheduling part of the agreement.

Furner was adamant the fixed scheduling shouldn't be scrapped.

"I don't think any of the clubs will be voting for that, that might be [Channel Nine's]  view but they signed an agreement and all the clubs agreed on the new broadcasting deal based on a greater share of free-to-air so we'll certainly be fighting for it."

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