B Jensen 16 March 2005

CHANNELS SEVEN AND TEN today announced in a release to the ASX that they will make a joint bid for the forthcoming TV rights to AFL matches. After funding the construction of then Colonial Stadium in the late nineties, Seven acquired the 'first and last' rights to bid on the Free to Air broadcast rights.

Seven lost the footy rights after the 2001 season to News Limited. News handballed the free to air rights on to Channels Nine (PBL Owned) and Ten to share. Since losing the rights, Seven Chairman Kerry Stokes has continued to fight both Nine, Ten, News Ltd and the AFL in court, claiming that they were effectively frozen out of the deal. The AFL announced in late 2004 that it was reducing distributions to clubs, as it had to spend several million dollars and budgeted for several million more fighting Seven.

Seven is still spitting chips after losing the footy; it resulted in the death of their pay TV channels C7 and C7Sport (and indirectly the National Soccer League).

The news is potentially good news for consumers, tired of Eddie Maguire dominating proceedings, and for those in New South Wales and Queensland, equally tired of Rugby League having the preferential treatment on Nine. It is not immediately clear what the Seven-Ten deal means for the Pay TV and Internet rights.

Foxtel has been largely accepted by the Australian Public; at least you can get it on the three main subscription television networks. Telstra, on the other hand, with their draconian measures adopted for the AFL.com.au and GFC.com.au websites, doesn't even let you view video, etc unless you subscribe to Bigpond broadband. Let's hope Telstra gets given the old Freo heave ho under this deal, and that Nine doesn't win the rights on its own.

Former PBL (Publishing and Broadcasting Limited) CEO and now Ten Executive Chairman Falloon, who was sacked by James Packer in 2001, has been touted to lead a combined Ten-Fairfax empire, clearly wants to make a name for himself. Other sacked PBL execs involved in the deal are, of course, Ian Johnson (former Nine and Crown Casino boss, now running all Seven TV stations as well as Telstra Dome) and David Leckie (another former Nine CEO, now Seven CEO).

Channel Seven Release 1

Channel Seven Release 2

Crikey.com.au Story