CA insists full steam ahead despite TV rights dispute
Governing body expected to announce schedule imminently as Seven and Fox reportedly withhold portion of rights fees
15 September 2020, 08:53 PM AEST
Cricket Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to delivering a "compelling summer schedule" of men's and women's international and domestic fixtures despite broadcasters reportedly withholding a portion of rights fees that were due today.
With the first women's T20 International of the season (against New Zealand) to be played in Brisbane in less than a fortnight, CA is holding ongoing negotiations with state governments regarding COVID19 restrictions in order to finalise the full summer fixture.
The schedule – which includes the hugely anticipated men's Vodafone Test Series against India – will be announced imminently, at which point the fixturing of matches in the KFC BBL and Marsh Sheffield Shield can also be completed.
CA's Interim Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley said today that while the social and economic fall-out of the coronavirus outbreak has presented unprecedented challenges, cricket has shown a willingness and ability to get the game going at home and abroad.
Last month, the Australia men's limited-overs outfit became the first Australia sporting team to compete since the COVID19 outbreak brought sport to a halt worldwide by travelling to the UK for the ongoing white-ball series against England.
And the arrival of New Zealand's women's team in Brisbane last weekend – the first national sporting team to visit Australia since the pandemic was declared – heralds the Commonwealth Bank T20 and ODI Series that will be played in front of a limited number of fans at Allan Border Field from September 26.
Those matches will be broadcast on both Seven and Foxtel.
"The 2020-21 season is shaping up as a massive summer of cricket," Hockley said today.
"The Australian men’s team achieved number-one ranking in Tests and T20Is over the past 12 months and will go head-to-head with India, the world’s largest cricketing nation and a formidable opponent on the field.
"It is one of the great sporting rivalries and this summer’s series across all formats is already generating enormous interest.
"Our Aussie women were recently voted Australia’s most popular sporting team, male or female, which is testament to longstanding success, including the recent and unforgettable T20 World Cup triumph in March.
"We can’t wait to launch the summer with their six-match series against great rivals, New Zealand, in a little over a week’s time.
"Interest will then carry over to the WBBL (to be played in Sydney starting October 25) and build upon last season’s first-ever standalone tournament.
"The chance to see the heroes of Australia’s World Cup-winning team playing against the best T20 talent from Australia and around the world is an exciting prospect for fans.
"The WBBL is by far the world’s leading women’s domestic cricket competition.
"And we are more confident than ever about staging a successful BBL, which is by far and away the most watched sporting league in Australia on a per-match basis.
"Clubs have embarked on ambitious recruitment drives, both in Australia and around the world, which will be complemented by exciting innovations to playing conditions to be announced shortly.
"The BBL brings millions of Australian families together through the school holidays and, after such a tough winter, will be more important than ever this year.
"Scheduling during a pandemic is challenging however despite these challenges we have been the first sport to bring an international representative team into Australia and we greatly appreciate the support of governments and overseas cricket boards to make this happen.
"Countless people are working together to ensure this summer is a huge success, including the players through the Australian Cricketers’ Association, the State and Territory Associations, governments, sponsors and broadcast partners.
"Together we are confident of delivering a compelling summer schedule that will meet our commitments to our broadcast partners and the high expectations of our fans."
Seven West Media and Foxtel signed a deal worth $1.182 billion in 2018 under which they would share the broadcast of the game in Australia for six years.
However, networks have claimed they are entitled to a discount on the rights fees as a result of the restrictions imposed by the global pandemic.
While the $58m shortfall in the broadcast rights instalment that was due today from Seven West Media and Foxtel remains undisclosed, CA continues to reaffirm its commitment to delivering a full schedule of matches.
Seven West Media Chief Executive James Warburton said today the network had paid what it believed to be "fair value" of its September instalment and indicated they would seek an independent valuation of future instalments.
"Seven has invoked the right to appoint an independent expert to determine the fair value of the media rights against the expected schedule for the season compared to the originally published schedule," Warburton was quoted as saying in Nine Entertainment Company newspapers.
Foxtel has declined to make public comment.