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Raiders filthy at free-to-air allocation
By James MacSmith
19:35 AEST Fri Nov 23 2012

Canberra chief executive Don Furner is disappointed his team - one he rates as the most exciting in the NRL - doesn't appeal to broadcaster Channel Nine.

The Raiders were again cast into the free-to-air wilderness on Friday when the NRL released the draw for the first 20 rounds of the 2013 season, in which they feature just once on Nine.

Canberra's surge to the finals was one of the talking points of last season and they boast some of the most enterprising attacking players.

However the Raiders will have to wait until their round 16 clash with South Sydney on Friday June 28 at ANZ Stadium to feature on free-to-air TV.

Before qualifying for the finals this year the Raiders played in just two Nine Network games in the regular season.

"It is disappointing for our fans, our sponsors and our players," Furner told AAP.

"I think there are a lot of teams who aren't as attractive to watch as us that are getting a lot more games on Channel Nine.

"We have some of the most exciting players in the competition, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Terry Campese ... I have been banging on about it for years and I will keep banging on about it but I just don't know what we have to do.

"Channel Nine games are a big deal for us, the players love to play in them ... it is a pity."

Furner said the Raiders were one of the highest rating sides on Fox Sports but remain shunned by the free-to-air broadcaster.

"I understand Nine have paid a lot of money for the rights, and it is a great deal for the code. But I can't understand why there can't be a more even spread of games," he said.

"I have been in constant contact with the NRL in regard to this and they are sympathetic to our requests but they just can't seem to get them across the line.

"We are in battle down here against the AFL and we need all the help we can get.

"We just have to use it as motivation to win games to put us in a position to get free-to-air coverage in the last six rounds and to qualify for the finals where of course every game is on Channel Nine."

Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah was another to vent his anger over the draw.

"No Sunday afternoon game at Leichhardt. #Speechless", he tweeted.

For the first time the NRL has released the draw for the first 20 rounds of the competition. The final six rounds will be scheduled after round 16.

The 2013 season kicks off with a Thursday night match between arch-rivals Sydney Roosters and South Sydney on March 7 at Allianz Stadium.

The first four rounds feature Thursday night games to be broadcast on Channel Nine and Sunday evening twilight matches to be shown on Fox Sports.

The grand final rematch between Melbourne and Canterbury is scheduled for Thursday March 21 at AAMI Stadium.


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