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Cricket Australia expects tough talks with broadcasters

Storm clouds at Big Bash League match between Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers (Photo by Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Cricket Australia is facing crunch talks with media rights partners who are tackling financial crises, according to reports in Australian media.

The organisation expects pay-television broadcaster Foxtel and free-to-air broadcaster Seven to seek to negotiate down the value of their media rights deals, because of potential event postponements and cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. CA has deals with Fox and Seven worth a combined A$1.18bn ($761m/€703m) over a six-year period from 2018 to 2024.

The Sydney Morning Herald said sources within CA said they expect the broadcasters will claim they are not in a position to fully meet their contractual obligations this summer. Their next payments are due in September and are worth a combined A$100m.

The Herald reports that CA believes it can still play a full summer schedule, albeit with games behind closed doors, and in that case will resist moves to secure markdowns on upcoming rights fee instalments.

CA also believes that the broadcasters will be able to cut production and travel costs because games are likely to be in empty stadiums or in a more limited number of venues than usual.

SportBusiness recently reported that Foxtel, which is majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, was laying off 200 staff and furloughing 140 more until the end of June. Seven was facing financial problems before the virus forced Australia into lockdown, which has exacerbated the company’s issues.

CA has stood down the majority of its staff from April 27 until the end of the current financial year.