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Ten labels Seven’s Tennis Australia deal ‘amazing and puzzling’

The Ten Network has hit back at sporting body Tennis Australia calling the decision to hand the tennis rights to Seven without an auction as both “amazing” and “puzzling” and accusing them of reneging on a promise.

Network Ten spokesman Neil Shoebridge told Mumbrella: “While we congratulate Tennis Australia on its new deal with Seven, we find it amazing and puzzling that Tennis Australia did not put its media rights out to tender – particularly as it had told other media companies it would do just that.”

The comments comes after the Seven Network and Tennis Australia confirmed this morning that a five year deal had been struck for the TV network to retain the rights for a rumoured $30m a year, well up on the $105m paid for the previous five year deal.

Shoebridge also argued that there would have been no cost for the sport to test the market. Media reports in recent days have suggested the rival network was willing to pay upward of $40m a year for the rights.

“It would not have cost Tennis Australia one cent to test the market and see what other broadcasters could have offered it. Instead, Tennis Australia has potentially done itself out of a tens of millions of dollars, money that could have been invested in the grassroots development of tennis – particularly with children – and in better rewards for professional players,” said Shoebridge.

“Cricket Australia, the AFL and the NRL have all demonstrated the clear financial benefits of taking their media rights to the open market. Why Tennis Australia chose to ignore recent history is a mystery. Tennis players, tennis fans and the Victorian government – which has invested very heavily in tennis in recent years – deserve an explanation.”

The Australian Financial Review, yesterday reported sources close to Tennis Australia claiming Harold Mitchell, the organisation’s vice-president, “virtually bulldozed” the deal through at board level.

Tennis Australia has not responded to requests for comment at the time of publishing.

Nic Christensen  

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