Channel Seven is seeking a court declaration to allow them to terminate a multimillion dollar Test cricket and Big Bash League broadcasting rights deal with Cricket Australia.
Cricket Australia (CA) reacted with astonishment to the move from its broadcast partner on Thursday and vowed to vigorously defend its position.
Seven West Media Ltd has filed court proceedings in the federal court of Australia in relation to “multiple quality and standard breaches by CA” of the existing $450m agreement.
“The SWM [Seven West Media] proceedings will seek both a court declaration that Seven is entitled to terminate the MRA [media rights agreement] on the basis of material contract breaches by CA which were not remedied, and damages arising out of past breaches,” Seven said in a statement.
It is understood the court proceedings will start early next year and the upcoming summer of cricket is unlikely to be affected, with Seven intent on performing its obligations in terms of broadcasting a busy summer of Test and BBL cricket.
There are two summers remaining on the six-year deal but it is understood that the BBL is the sticking point for Seven, after the past two seasons were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Seven previously obtained preliminary discovery proceedings in the federal court relating to the claims,” Seven said.
“Seven’s intention is to terminate the MRA, conditional on the federal court granting a declaration that Seven is entitled to do so. Seven has the right to waive this condition. The damages action is not conditional.
“Seven has pursued the informal dispute resolution procedure under the MRA but the procedure failed to resolve the dispute.”
CA defended its coverage during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, in which it broadcast every WBBL and BBL game, as well as “highly acclaimed international schedules” amid the challenges the pandemic presented.
“In the circumstances, CA is astonished that Seven has brought this unwarranted action which will be strenuously defended,” CA said in a statement.
“CA remains enormously proud of the efforts of the Australian cricket family including players, match officials, sponsors, stadium operators, host governments, staff and volunteers whose hard work, dedication and expertise allowed us to deliver two exceptional cricket seasons in unprecedented circumstances.
“We look forward to another hugely entertaining summer, including hosting the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup as defending champions, welcoming a record six international touring teams to Australia, as well as the eighth and 12th editions of WBBL and BBL respectively.”