The debt-laden network wouldn’t say anything about how much it paid, but it was less than $ 25 million. Seven is due to make its three final payments in November, December and January, but CEO James Warburton stated they would not make those payments, effectively valuing the rights at a quarter of their annual value.
Aside from the questions of infringement, in accordance with the contract, Seven has invoked the right to appoint an independent expert to determine the fair value of the media rights at the expected schedule for the season compared to the original published schedule, ”said Warburtn.
“Seven has paid the first installment which reflects our fair value.”
As part of a six-year deal worth $ 1.18 billion, Seven is contributing $ 82 million annually, including cash and cash, and Foxtel $ 110 million.
Seven remains angry that CA has yet to provide a detailed schedule for the summer, and consistent in arguing that CA will not provide a season of expected ‘quality’, mainly in the Big Bash League, due to the fallout from COVID-19. if this standard is not met, Seven can terminate his contract.
CA denies the “quality” argument but is still waiting for exemptions from the government before releasing the program.
The networks, despite their stance, will still air the women’s white-ball series against New Zealand later this month in a bio-safe bubble. But the wage battle is now one step closer to the settlement of the Melbourne Supreme Court.
Foxtel and Seven both wrote to CA last week claiming breach of contract. CA has until September 23 to respond to their claims. Seven and CA have meetings scheduled for later in the week.
Seven argue that the BBL will be aesthetically influenced by having to host matches in bubbles, where matches with neutral teams are unlikely to have an audience and commentators in a studio. Seven also claims the BBL will be watered down due to the need for an extensive test crew, possibly of about 17 players to meet India due to biosecurity issues where replacement players cannot be called up as they normally are.
Seven’s concerns about the BBL are so great that Warburton is in danger of tearing up the remaining four years of the contract. The network also asked CA to cancel the game this season so it would be renewed in 2021-22.
Reviews and average attendance have fallen in recent years, but CA claims it is a world-class competition and will open its own checkbook this summer to entice some of the world’s best talent. However, that does not apply to English superstar Jofra Archer, who confirmed that he will not be returning to the Hobart Hurricanes.
Cricket insiders have suggested that there is no clause on the quality of the tournament, but those with knowledge of the discussions argue that there are two main clauses.
The former states that CA must make “all reasonable efforts” to ensure that matches in an average over the season are at least equal to the highest quality and standard of Twenty20 matches in the world. The second focal point relates to CA setting up “at least” a season that is “generally no less” than the standard of last year’s event.
CA, advised by law firm K&L Gates and several senior attorneys, is reluctant to be dragged into a war of words with Seven and remains confident in its legal standing.
Sources familiar with the dispute say that if Seven eventually terminates its contract and goes to court, CA would sue Seven for damages equal to the difference between the network’s annual agreement and the value of deals it could close with other broadcasters like Nine and Ten when they picked up Test cricket and the Big Bash for a lower price.
However, a source aware of Seven’s position warned that even if CA were to win, it could take more than a year to run its course and the network’s debt settlement with eight banks meant that the game was anyway might also have trouble getting the money.
Both Seven and Foxtel objected to force majeure notices sent to broadcasters by CA late last month, with Seven informing prominent attorney Neil Young, QC.
While Seven wouldn’t have a major summer sport if it walked away from the game, Nine chief executive Hugh Marks said last week that the code’s former free-to-air rights holder would be interested in a return to beating international cricket against the right price.
Jon Pierik is a cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his writing on cricket and basketball.
Chris Barrett is The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chief Sports Reporter.
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