Why Steve Smith was singled out in Seven’s $450million legal battle to AXE its TV deal with CA
The absence of Australian cricket superstar Steve Smith from the Big Bash League last summer has been a source of frustration for Channel Seven, which has embarked on a $450 million legal battle to end its TV deal with Cricket Australia.
Smith, 33, wanted to play for the Sydney Sixers, but CA rejected the offer.
The decision reportedly infuriated the free-to-air network, which quickly sent an email to CA CEO Nick Hockley.
“Steve Smith is a world-class player whose absence is expected to diminish public interest and the size of the broadcast audience,” Seven said in a claims statement.
“No other cricket board has banned a world-class player from taking part in a major match under similar circumstances.
“Steve Smith’s exclusion has been mocked by several high-profile cricketers, including Allan Border, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Vaughan, Nathan Lyon and Mike Hussey.”
The absence of Australian cricket superstar Steve Smith from the Big Bash League last summer has been a source of frustration for Channel Seven (Smith is pictured playing for the Sydney Sixers in 2020)
Seven has launched legal action with CA in Federal Court – complaining about the poor quality of the Big Bash, not the test cricket (pictured, Australian test captain Pat Cummins)
The development comes after it was revealed on Thursday that Seven has formally launched federal court proceedings against Cricket Australia in a bid to end the $450 million TV rights deal.
The network has already filed lawsuits, pointing to what they consider to be repeated violations of their six-year media rights contract, which expires in 2024.
The crux of their argument concerns what Seven believes is poor quality programming for viewers.
It also follows the initiation of preliminary ruling proceedings against Cricket Australia in Federal Court at the end of 2020 regarding the same claims.
The end result of that proceeding was that the federal court ordered CA to hand over the agreed documents to the TV network.
Channel Seven has formally filed a lawsuit against Cricket Australia in a bid to end its $450 million TV rights deal (pictured, commentators Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath)
Seven confirmed in a statement that they are asking for a court statement that “allows them to terminate the contract to broadcast Test cricket and the Big Bash League with Cricket Australia”.
The breaches that Seven claims are believed to have centered around the BBL, which has struggled for ratings over the past summers.
The network has formed the opinion that the BBL is a poor franchise league – especially when compared to the multibillion-dollar Indian Premier League – attracting world-class players in the subcontinent every year.
“Seven West Media Limited, through its subsidiary Seven Network Limited, has initiated legal action in the Federal Court of Australia against Cricket Australia alleging multiple quality and standard violations by CA of Seven’s Media Rights Agreement with CA,” said a statement from Seven. .
The SWM (Seven West Media) lawsuit seeks both: A court statement that Seven has the right to terminate the MRA (Media Rights Agreement) on the basis of material breaches of contract by CA that have not been remedied.
“And damages arising from past breaches.”
Seven says recent attempts to resolve the long-running dispute through a resolution process have failed, according to News Corp.
The court proceedings would be lengthy meaning there will be no impact on the televised cricket matches on Seven this summer.
“It is Seven’s intent to terminate the MRA, provided the federal court issues a statement that Seven is entitled to do so,” the statement continued.
Seven reserves the right to waive this condition. The action for damages is not conditional.
Seven will continue to fulfill its obligations under the MRA until terminated.
“The network has followed the informal dispute settlement procedure under the MRA, but the procedure has not resolved the dispute.”
Seven has pointed to poor quality programming, with the struggling T20 Big Bash (pictured) deemed well below the multi-billion dollar Indian Premier League standard
CA has hit back at Seven’s criticism of the broadcast, labeling their behavior Thursday as “astonishing.”
“Cricket Australia is extremely disappointed that our broadcast partner, the Seven Network, has initiated legal action against CA in connection with recent cricket seasons affected by Covid,” a statement from CA said.
CA delivered two highly successful cricket seasons in 2020-21 and 2021-22, including every WBBL and BBL match (a total of 240 matches over two seasons) and critically acclaimed international schedules, despite the huge challenges posed by the global pandemic.
“Under the circumstances, CA is astonished that Seven took this baseless action, which will be vigorously defended.”