Revealed: Channel 7’s dramatic declaration in TV rights war
Channel 7 on Tuesday made a partial payment for their cricket TV rights fees - then dramatically declared it would be their final one of the year.
It's yet another flashpoint in Channel 7's relationship with Cricket Australia, and another escalation in the network's threats to walk away from the sport with four years' to run on its $450 million deal.
Channel 7 issued a statement on Tuesday calling for CA to agree to an independent expert to come in and assess what is a fair recalibration of the rights based on the expected schedule.
Network boss James Warburton also confirmed in a statement that they had only made a part payment of the $25 million instalment it was due to pay Cricket Australia, claiming it is reflective of their view of what constitutes fair value.
Watch every ball of Australia's Tour of England Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly
"Putting aside the questions of breach, in accordance with the contract 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 said.
"Seven has paid the first instalment reflecting our assessment of fair value."
But not only has Channel 7 paid considerably less than the $25 million owed for this first instalment, News Corp understands the network is saying privately that fractional payment will be it for the rest for the entire year.
There are another two instalments left on the annual $75 million payment, including the next on December 15, but Channel 7 is bullishly claiming that what they've paid is, in their view, the value of the entire summer.
Fellow broadcasters Fox Sports were also expected to only pay a partial amount on Tuesday.
Channel 7 bosses are set to meet with Cricket Australia counterparts on Thursday, and it's unknown what CA's response will be to the latest development.
They could have the option to commence their own termination proceedings against Seven, or attempt to start negotiations for a recut deal.
Channel 7 and Fox Sports are claiming that this summer - particularly the Big Bash League - will not meet the value of what they're paying for the rights.
The free-to-air network is also claiming CA has breached its contract in other ways, however, Cricket Australia's legal advice is that they are standing on solid ground.
A dispute resolution trigger in the contract pertains to the appointment of an independent expert, however, the two parties would have to jointly agree.
Cricket Australia is adamant it will produce a world class BBL which will uphold their end of the bargain.
Both networks are desperate for a schedule to provide clarity, and CA is working around the clock to deliver, but is being held up by Government approvals.
Originally published as Revealed: Channel 7's dramatic declaration in TV rights war