Sydney, India’s Test tour of Australia could be in jeopardy if the tussle between Channel Seven and Cricket Australia over annual broadcasting fees is not resolved.
Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald reported that Seven West Media, owner of Channel 7, took Cricket Australia into arbitration on Tuesday morning and has threatened to pull out of the deal.
According to SMH, Seven’s managing director James Warburton had already threatened to drop a push for a discount and head to the courts to terminate its six-year deal worth AUD 450 million.
The case has been lodged at Australian Chamber for International and Commercial Arbitration and Seven seeks an expert to determine the rights value of the series. A decision against them could cost Cricket Australia millions of dollars.
Channel Seven had originally sought a cut in annual fees for this summer after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) forced a change in their tour schedule, bringing the white-ball series to the start of the season, the change of dates for the Tests, with only one Test before Christmas and the final Test finishing in mid January when the holiday season ends and many people are back at work. There are some other issues related the Big Bash League too.
As per the original schedule, the T20Is were to take place in October, as a pre-cursor to World T20, and the Tests were to start on December 3. The ODI series was to happen around mid-January. However, Covid-19 forced a change in plans from BCCI, which scheduled IPL in September after the World T20 was postponed to next year. The Tests are now expected to start on December 17 while the ODIs and T20Is reportedly precede the Tests. However, CA is yet to officially release the schedule.
Seven West Media’s Channel 7, a free-to-air channel, holds the rights for Test series whereas Foxtel, a pay channel, holds the rights for the white ball series. The latter is not in any doubt.