'Fair value': Latest escalation in multi-million dollar cricket TV feud

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
The likes of Mitch Starc will be sweating on the latest turn in the ugly contract dispute between Channel 7, Foxtel and Cricket Australia. (Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The likes of Mitch Starc will be sweating on the latest turn in the ugly contract dispute between Channel 7, Foxtel and Cricket Australia. (Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Seven West Media has refused to pay full price for its broadcast rights with Cricket Australia (CA), making a partial payment that is certain to stretch a relationship that is already incredibly strained.

Seven and CA remain at loggerheads on the eve of the 2020-21 season, with the disgruntled free-to-air broadcaster threatening to walk away from its $450 commitment to the sport.

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The media giant last week issued CA a legal letter, declaring the governing body had breached its contract.

That dispute, which could potentially culminate in Seven terminating its deal, is ongoing.

The broadcaster which used a range of arguments while pushing for its annual rights fee to be reduced, has now grown tired of CA's refusal to enter negotiations and opted to apply its own discount.

Seven, which was due to pay $25 million to CA on Tuesday, has confirmed a smaller total has been transferred.

"Seven has paid the first instalment reflecting our assessment of fair value," Seven chief executive James Warburton said in a statement.

If the feuding parties can't resolve the issue it could soon become a legal stoush, with CA desperate to avoid a major blow to its revenue.

Foxtel is yet to reveal its cards but is also believed to be seeking a discount from CA and adopting a similar approach to Seven.

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Seven and Foxtel both remain frustrated at CA's inability to deliver a final schedule for 2020-21.

CA is waiting on state-government clearances before releasing its updated fixtures list, which have been sent to the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Warburton refused to reveal the exact figure transferred but noted Seven picked the number after consulting a third party.

"Putting aside the questions of breach, in accordance with the contract Seven has invoked the right to appoint an independent expert," he said.

"To determine the fair value of the media rights against the expected schedule for the season, compared to the originally published schedule."

Channel 7 and Foxtel have both refused to pay full price on payment installations for their TV rights deals with Cricket Australia, arguing the impact of the coronavirus means they are not getting fair value. (Photo by SHAUN BOTTERILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Channel 7 and Foxtel have both refused to pay full price on payment installations for their TV rights deals with Cricket Australia, arguing the impact of the coronavirus means they are not getting fair value. (Photo by SHAUN BOTTERILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

CA's board has repeatedly declared it will not offer any form of discount on the six-year broadcast deal, which totalled $1.2 billion and was signed in 2018.

The governing body insists it will, unlike the AFL and NRL, deliver a full season of content as promised.

"We will hold up our end of the bargain. I am sure Channel Seven and Foxtel will as well," CA chairman Earl Eddings said earlier this year.

The season starts with a women's trans-Tasman Twenty20 on September 26 in Brisbane, which Seven has guaranteed it will broadcast no matter the state of the dispute.