The West

Delayed telecasts of AFL games that have frustrated Perth footy fans will end this season.

Channel 7 confirmed yesterday that Friday night games would be broadcast live to WA this season for the first time.

It said all Friday night games would be live on digital channel 7mate and live broadcasts of Saturday games would be shared between 7mate and 7.

Adelaide and Essendon will kick off the new arrangement and the new season on Friday, March 22 with the western derby live on 7mate the following afternoon.

Channel 7 Perth managing director Mario D'Orazio said the agreement between the broadcaster, the AFL and the Federal Government was a win for Perth audiences.

"This really is a fantastic development for WA footy fans," Mr D'Orazio said. "We congratulate the Federal minister and the AFL leadership for this far-sighted, outstanding decision."

The deal brings an end to a frustrating era for Perth viewers, with almost all Friday games televised live in Melbourne but delayed until 8.30pm in WA.

The delays were heavily criticised but networks were reluctant to interrupt their prime-time Friday night schedules.

Though networks have been allowed to use their digital channels to show live games for some time, government restrictions limited the number available and forced a simulcast on the main channel.

But a decision by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and previous changes to anti-siphoning laws means the restrictions no longer apply.

West Coast and Fremantle management and supporters welcomed the move to more live telecasts.

Dockers chief executive Steve Rosich said the move would benefit the club.

"We've received really good coverage and protection under the current arrangement," he said.

"But based on our experience with the AFL, any move to more live or near-live games will have a positive effect."

Long-time Eagles supporter Jade Cossington said live telecasts were long overdue.

"It's about time," she said.

"There's nothing worse than sitting down at 8.30 on a Friday when the game's been finished an hour.

"People like myself who can't afford to pay for Foxtel will now be able to see live footy."

Mr D'Orazio said WA was ready to embrace digital television.

The West Australian

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