Channel 7 has made an application to the leading Australian arbitration body, the Australian Chamber for International and Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) seeking a ruling on its dispute with Cricket Australia.
What you need to know:
- In 2018, Seven bought the free-to-air broadcast rights for cricket for 6 years at a price of $450 million.
- However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple changes were made to Cricket Australia’s scheduling of matches.
- Specifically, four Tests against India were pushed back to late December and replaced with six day-night white-ball matches.
- Reports suggest that Seven rejected a 20% cut in broadcasting fees offered by Cricket Australia and countered with a whopping 40% demand.
The issue? The white ball matches were only able to be viewed by subscribers to Foxtel.
As a result, Seven launched Federal Court proceedings seeking documents from Cricket Australia to support its case that CA has given preferential treatment to Foxtel and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) by delaying the India tests. The dispute has seen Seven chief executive, James Warburton, label the CA administration as “the most incompetent administration I’ve ever worked with”. In court documents Seven claims that it may have suffered damages in the millions of dollars. It doesn’t help that since buying the rights in 2018, Seven has posted a whopping $444 million loss. The dispute is next in court in March.
The third umpire: ACICA
In addition to launching proceedings in the Federal Court, Channel Seven has lodged an application with ACICA. It seems to be hoping that an independent arbitrator will rule that its contract with CA is no longer worth the $450 million that it paid in 2018. That claim won’t be helped by recently published data suggesting that the India Test series was one of the most watched test series in history.
In mid-December 2020 the ACICA appointed Venture Consulting Chief Executive Justin Jameson as arbitrator, who was agreed by both parties to be an expert in sports broadcast deals. Although Jameson’s decision has not yet been published, the case is a high profile exercise in dealing with COVID-19 induced frustrations. We’ll update you with the latest instalments as they occur.