Foxtel puts the squeeze on Cricket Australia

Seven’s dispute could next move to mediation, then arbitration and potentially into court. Cricket Australia has not budged on giving a discount to broadcasters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cricket sources said Seven’s letter was not a termination letter.

Foxtel declined to comment.

“Cricket Australia remains in ongoing discussions with broadcasters about delivering a compelling summer of cricket. CA is committed to fulfilling its contractual obligations to all its partners this season,” a Cricket Australia spokesman said.

If Seven goes through mediation, arbitration, court and does terminate its contract, Cricket Australia may need to find a new free-to-air broadcaster, while Foxtel is keen to get more cricket behind its paywall. The Big Bash League was broadcast by Foxtel when it was created, but it took off after it moved to free-to-air network Ten.

Nine, owner of the Financial Review, walked away from Cricket Australia in 2018 after winning the rights to the Australian Open tennis. Its relationship with Cricket Australia had deteriorated significantly.

Ten’s relationship with the sporting body also soured after Cricket Australia opted for Seven as its free-to-air partner despite Ten’s success as BBL broadcaster and little money between the two bids.

Earlier this month, Nine chief executive Hugh Marks opened the door to retaking free-to-air rights for Test matches, but at the right price.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen Nine, Seven and Foxtel renegotiate the price of sports rights deals, which executives have argued have been overly inflated.

It came after the AFL and NRL were forced to postpone their seasons amid the spread of COVID-19. Foxtel has received discounts for the AFL, NRL and A-League.

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