Seven awarded $5.3m deduction on CA rights deal by mediator

The expert appointed to mediate the rights dispute between Seven West Media and Cricket Australia has decided that the financial impact of changes to the 2020-21 cricket season is $5.3 million, subject to potential further increases.

The expert determined that $5.3 million should be deducted from the next scheduled rights fee payment on 15 March 2021, which is the same day Seven’s preliminary discovery action in the Federal Court is set down for. Foxtel and Seven signed a six year deal with Cricket Australia for the television rights in 2018. Seven’s share equates to $450 million.

The expert also determined that, if the Afghanistan Test is not rescheduled for the 2021-22 cricket season, a further $3 million should be deducted from the next rights fee payment for that season.

The BBL final drew 640,000 metro viewers to Seven

Seven has to date reserved and continues to reserve concerns over the expert, appointed by the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, as not having met fundamental contractual conditions of independence under the media rights agreement. Seven reportedly sent a letter asking for the arbitrator appointed to mediate its dispute with Cricket Australia be removed over a potential conflict of interest.

Seven argued that Justin Jameson, the chief executive of Venture Consulting, should no longer decide whether Seven can pay less on its $450 million deal with the sporting body, because his company published a report delving into the relationship between free to air networks, streaming platforms, and sports rights.

Jameson was appointed to arbitrate the dispute that began in August 2020. In December, the James Waburton-led company began Federal Court proceedings over Cricket Australia’s alleged breach of contract, concerning the summer cricket schedule and quality of the line-up.

Seven claims that the summer cricket schedule was unfairly influenced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BBCI), rather than solely shaped by the pandemic’s effect on live sports, giving the BCCI and Foxtel an advantage, and is seeking financial compensation for Test Match and Big Bash League (BBL) quality failures by Cricket Australia.

The original summer schedule was changed, pushing a three match one day international (ODI) series to a late November start, followed by the Twenty20 series. Importantly for Seven, a four day test series against India was delayed and the limited overs matches aired on Foxtel and Kayo; the first men’s international cricket on Seven wasn’t until 17 December.

The Big Bash League Final between the Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers in February won Seven drew 640,000 metro viewers and 34.6% network share for the night.


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