Cricket Australia’s free-to-air television broadcaster Channel Seven has filed proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia to terminate its $82 million per year broadcast agreement, citing “multiple quality and standards violations”.
The move by the network continues the long-running battle between Seven and CA that began in 2020 after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Channel Seven owner Seven West Media issued a statement on Thursday confirming that they have raised their position against CA.
“Seven West Media Limited through its subsidiary Seven Network (Operations) Limited (Seven) has filed an appeal against Cricket Australia (CA) in the Federal Court of Australia against Cricket Australia (CA) in respect of several quality and standard breaches by CA of the Seven Media Rights Agreement with CA (MRA),” the statement said.
“SWM proceedings will seek both: a court declaration that Seven is entitled to terminate the MRA on grounds of material contract breaches by CA that were not remedied; and damages arising from previous breaches. Seven previously federal Court in respect of claims received in preliminary search proceedings.
“Seven intends to terminate the MRA, conditional on the Federal Court to declare that Seven is entitled to do so. Seven has the right to waive this condition. The damages action is not conditional. Seven performs its obligations under it.” Will continue till the end of MRA (in respect of telecasting test and BBL etc.).
“Seven followed the informal dispute resolution process under the MRA but the process failed to resolve the dispute.”
Cricket Australia responded by saying they were “surprised” by Seven’s situation after two seasons amid the challenges of the pandemic, adding that they would fight back in action.
“Cricket Australia (CA) is aware of reports that our broadcast partner, Seven Network, has initiated legal proceedings against CA in connection with the recent COVID-affected cricket seasons,” the statement read.
“CA delivered two very successful cricket seasons in 2020-21 and 2021-22, featuring WBBL and BBL games each (240 games in total across two seasons) and highly acclaimed international schedules, despite the enormous challenges presented by the global pandemic.
“Under the circumstances, CA is surprised that Seven has taken this unwarranted action which will be vigorously defended.”
Seven signed a six-year deal in 2018 with subscription provider Foxtel to become CA’s free-to-air broadcast partner, but has been keen to end the deal in recent years. In late 2020, Seven took CA to an independent arbitrator, seeking a steep cut in its $82 million-a-year portion of the A$1.18 billion deal it signed with Foxtel in April 2018.
The mediator, Justin Jameson of Venture Consulting, concluded that Seven should only get $5 million off the $70 million deduction the network was pursuing.
The perceived “violation of quality and standards” surrounds the BBL, which has declined in popularity since Seven began airing it in 2018–19, although ratings are relatively good compared to other Australian sports leagues. has been
Part of CA’s push to revive the BBL this year through initiatives such as overseas draft is to coincide with the next TV rights cycle when the current deal with Seven and Foxtel expires in 2024.