Seven West Media boss James Warburton says he is still unsure whether India will be able to make it into the country successfully in time for their $300 million tour but has promised the network will promote the Test series until further notice.
The television network and Cricket Australia are currently in a dispute over how much money Seven should pay for broadcast rights given uncertainty in the schedule that has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Warburton said at Seven's annual event for advertisers that the network still loved cricket but ongoing discussions were about ensuring value for money for the company and its commercial partners.
India are set to tour Australia this summer but there is no clarity on where they will quarantine.Credit:Getty
"We love cricket," Warburton told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "We've got a huge amount of respect for the teams and the athletes but ultimately this is actually about cricket Australia delivering the quality of the product and living up to their obligations with the contract. Here we are the 21st of October – we don't have a schedule.
"We don't know what port they will arrive at and obviously there's been plenty playing out in the press and looks … like there's huge pressure on NSW Health, given WA, South Australia it looks like Queensland may have said 'no'."
NSW authorities are considering a proposal from Cricket Australia for India's players to quarantine in Sydney which, if successful, could lead to the city launching the international men's season with limited-overs matches between Virat Kohli's team and Australia that had been planned for Queensland.
NSW Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres and NSW Health confirmed on Tuesday the government had received a submission from CA, but no decision has been made.
CA had planned for India to quarantine in Brisbane and train at Allan Border Field but Queensland, which has an election on October 31, has given no clarity on whether it can go ahead.
Warburton said there was every intention to broadcast the Tests and that he hoped NSW Health would "come to the party". However, he remains adamant the network needs to renegotiate the price it paid for the Big Bash League.
Seven acquired the broadcast rights to most Big Bash League games and Test matches played in Australia as part of a $1.18 billion contract with Foxtel. Seven agreed to pay about $75 million in cash and $7 million in free advertising a year, before production costs for six years.
Foxtel bought all rights to all matches played in Australia including exclusivity over limited-overs internationals and some of the BBL for about $100 million per year, before production costs.
"The next piece to play on is the quality of the BBL," Warburton said. "We've been very, very public about that, if that means we're outspoken then so be it but we paid a huge amount of money for the rights. We've been able to re-cut our deals with [other] sporting bodies … and even re-cut a deal with the [International Olympic Committee].
"The arbitrator will make a decision when we get a revised schedule as to what the value equation is. That's the stance that we've taken."
The Australian Chamber for International and Commercial Arbitration is expected to confirm an independent expert to determine whether Seven deserves a cut and, if so, by how much, by the end of the week. Seven and CA rejected eight independent candidates put forward by either side on the grounds they are not qualified or have conflicts of interest.
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