Cricket Australia vs Broadcaster : Seven pays media rights dues, arbitration hearing starts next week

The dispute between Cricket Australia and their media rights partner will go into arbitration next week. But prior to the arbitration hearing over the broadcast rights fee dispute, free-to-air broadcaster Seven has made a A$10m ($7.1m) media-rights fee payment to the board. Seven and CA pay-television broadcaster, Fox Sports, have been in dispute over how changes to CA’s international and domestic cricket competitions have affected the value of the broadcast deals. The arbitration hearing to settle the dispute will begin next week.

Both broadcasters had withheld rights-fee payments due to the dispute. A report in The Brisbane Times says payments have now been made, with Foxtel recently paying a A$33m instalment. The Brisbane Times said Seven paid the full amount of what was owed to protect itself before an independent tribunal evaluated the value of the rights.

Seven pays around A$82m per year to CA for its rights in a six-year deal from 2018-19 to 2023-24. Fox Sports pays just over $110m per season in a deal covering the same period. The deals are together worth a total of A$1.18bn over the period.

The Brisbane Times report says CA last week indicated that it was willing to negotiate with the broadcasters and offer discounts on their deals.

CA has argued that it will deliver a full schedule of matches this summer, using bio-secure hubs to limit Covid-19 risks, although it has yet to verify a schedule. The matches cover both home internationals and the Big Bash League domestic T20 tournament.

India Tour of Australia: Dates yet to be confirmed, State governments yet to give clearance to the tour

Dates for a high-profile home series against India and the BBL are yet to be confirmed. The schedule for India’s tour is yet to be approved by the Indian cricket board and Australian government exemptions regarding quarantine for the Indian team have not been confirmed. Last week, a planned home Test against Afghanistan and a one-day international series against New Zealand were postponed.

CA’s broadcasters are unhappy with the quality of the Big Bash League this season, believing the talent pool will be diluted because Australian national team players will be unable to play due to national team commitments.

The dispute has also seen Seven chief executive, James Warburton, label the CA administration as “the most incompetent administration I’ve ever worked with” as part of his criticism over the negotiations with CA over the summer broadcast schedule.