Battle to hold onto rights
The unexpected entry of stand-in Australian cricket captain George Bailey into Channel Nine’s attempts to hold onto the Australian broadcasting rights has underlined the network faces its toughest battle to regain them after three decades.
Bailey went on the offensive yesterday after Nine’s head of sport Steve Crawley complained about Cricket Australia’s decision to rest batting powerhouse Dave Warner, captain Michael Clarke and dropping Mike Hussey altogether – saying viewers wanted to see them in action.
Bailey took the extraordinary step – for a player – to say Crawley’s comments were an attempt to drive down the price of the next five year’s worth of broadcasting rights being negotiated at the moment.
His attack follows predatory comments by the Ten Network’s chief operating officer Jon Marquard last month that over the first half of this year Ten will vigorously pursue the rights – projected to worth in the region of $500-$700m – with Seven also in the frame.
The current deal is thought to be worth $320 million over the last seven years.
Bailey’s spray followed Cricket Australia criticising Crawley’s comments earlier this week when Nine was still discussing the next round of rights. While his comments were forceful, Bailey clearly did not know negotiations over the broadcast deal between CA and Nine ended yesterday.
“Discussions with Nine have ceased and now we can talk to other parties (Ten, Seven, Foxtel) to guage their interests and see what sort of offers the are prepared to make, and that’s a process which will take up the first half of the year,” CA spokesman Peter Young told Mumbrella today.
“George’s comments were pretty much off the cuff, and his comments were not a view we share.
“We have a sensational relationship with Channel Nine , one that transcends the ink on the conract.
“But George won’t be disciplined – he has quite an intellectual edge and is very articulate in how he expresses his opinions.”
Channel Nine, which has first right of response to its rivals, would not comment.