TV boss’ scathing attack on CA’s ‘cricket failings’
Channel 7 boss James Warburton has launched a blistering attack on Cricket Australia, furious they have failed to deliver clarity on the upcoming summer schedule.
In scenes reminiscent of Channel 9's blazing public take-down of the NRL earlier this year, Warburton's broadside is bad news for cricket given Seven is not even halfway through a five-year deal.
Channel 7 is under huge financial pressure and the network has been chasing a rights reduction for this summer based on the impacts of COVID-19 on the schedule.
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However, Cricket Australia Chairman Earl Eddings indicated back in June that it would expect its broadcasters Seven and Fox to pay "full freight" this season and it's understood CA is standing by that position.
A showdown is looming after Warburton slammed Cricket Australia's management of the pandemic-hit schedule, claiming the AFL has left them for dead.
"It's been frustrating with Cricket Australia, that's for sure," Warburton said on an investor call on Tuesday.
"Ultimately, when you look at the season, like the AFL and to an extent the NRL, they need to look at what is possible to deliver, stop talking about international borders being closed, or borders being closed, and start to look at what really is the season we are going to deliver.
"Like we have done with the AFL, our obligation then is to really deliver something for the fans and the players and the put our best foot forward for all of our commercial partners as well.
"But, at the moment, you pick up the paper every day and you read four or five different things. You have got the Australian T20 and one-day captain saying one thing, you have got the coach saying another, you have got BBL franchises talking about no international players - or [having more] grade cricketers. We could send the cameras down for free to telecast grade cricket.
"We have paid a huge price for the rights and we need to understand very quickly what the season is. It's been a point of frustration with Cricket Australia, that's for sure."
CA is standing firm that it will deliver a full schedule for broadcasters as per their contract.
However, chief executive Nick Hockley refused to bite back in response to Warburton's broadside.
"The Seven Network are a valued partner and we thank them for the support they continue to provide to Australian cricket," said Hockley.
"We are confident we will provide them with fantastic content this summer - from our world-beating Aussie women's team, to the excitement of the W/BBL, to the men's Test series between world superpowers India and Australia - that will entertain audiences and deliver for advertisers.
"Scheduling during a pandemic has no doubt been challenging, particularly when factoring in the added complexities associated with international travel, but solid progress is being made.
"We will be announcing revisions to our schedules once we have all necessary government exemptions and biosecurity measures in place.
"I have great admiration for James and have enjoyed our discussions since I stepped into this role. I look forward to meeting with him again shortly to continue planning for the summer ahead."
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Originally published as TV boss' scathing attack on CA's 'cricket failings'