Channel 7’s billionaire chairman has stoked the flames of an already explosive TV war by taking another swing at Cricket Australia.
Channel 7’s billionaire chairman has stoked the flames of an already explosive TV war by taking another swing at Cricket Australia.

Channel 7 lands fresh blow in cricket war

Channel 7 chairman Kerry Stokes has taken a clip at Cricket Australia as the two parties' relationship remains on rocky ground.

Broadcast partner Seven has been vocal in its criticism of CA, with CEO James Warburton previously calling the governing body "the most incompetent administration I've ever worked with".

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The bad blood stems from concerns about the quality of players available for the Big Bash League this summer, which Seven will cover as part of its broadcast rights arrangement.

The network signed a $450 million deal in 2018 as it pinched the TV rights from Channel 9 after a 40-year stranglehold but as sports worldwide were crippled by COVID-19, Seven suggested it wanted to discuss a discounted deal.

There were even reports Seven could walk away from the sport altogether if it wasn't satisfied with how negotiations progressed.

Stokes, the billionaire chairman of Seven West Media, spoke publicly for the first time about the feud at the company's annual general meeting on Thursday, saying while everything on the field paints a bright picture, it's off the field where problems lie.

"Our company loves cricket. We couldn't be more excited about cricket, the people who play it and the games and watching Australia represent us at the middle of the oval," Stokes said. "It's outside the oval and at the administrative offices where we have some issues.

"The company paid a lot of money - a record amount of money - for a quality product and that hasn't been delivered to us, and nor have they offered us anything in return to make up for what they haven't delivered, and will continue to push your company's rights to achieve a fair outcome."

CA has always maintained it will fulfil its contractual obligations and provide as much cricket as promised to its broadcast partners.

 

Per the Sydney Morning Herald, Seven reportedly rejected a 20 per cent discount in their fees, arguing that was not sufficient enough.

The broadcaster is also reportedly upset at the schedule changes for this summer's Test, ODI and T20 series against India, which had to be re-jigged because of the global pandemic. Limited overs matches are only being broadcast by Foxtel, as part of the new deal CA struck in 2018.

Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said on Thursday, when announcing a 17-man Test squad for the Indian series, he and his colleagues know the importance of trying to release those players who don't make the final cut back to their BBL franchises so fans get to see the best available cricketers in action in the domestic T20 competition.

"Of course, returning them to the BBL will be a little bit easier than bringing players in," Hohns said. "As we have done in past seasons, we will release players if the opportunity arises to go back and play for their Big Bash League clubs.

"Of course, we want our players playing as much as we can. Unfortunately, right now, the circumstances are a little bit different to normal.

"But, as I suggested, as the years have gone by and history shows, we have always tried to release players back to their Big Bash squads if, and when, we can."

 

Originally published as Channel 7 lands fresh blow in cricket war



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