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Debt-ridden Nine chases new deal

Channel Nine commentators (from left) Mark Nicholas, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Michael Slater and Mark Taylor.

Channel Nine commentators (from left) Mark Nicholas, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Michael Slater and Mark Taylor.

CHANNEL Nine managing director Jeff Browne says his network remains hopeful of retaining the Australian rights to international cricket, despite his debt-laden network edging towards the point of collapse.

Nine's seven-year contract with Cricket Australia to broadcast Tests, one-dayers and Twenty20 matches, worth about $300 million, expires after this summer.

Fox Sports' hold on the Big Bash League is also up for renewal.

As revealed in The Age in August, Channel Seven says it is contemplating bidding for at least a slice of the rights when negotiations intensify next month.

Nine and Fox recently renewed the rights to the NRL for $1.025 billion, but Nine Entertainment is sinking under a $3.2 billion debt pile, with industry observers unsure if it will have enough money to bid for the cricket rights it has held since the end of World Series Cricket in 1979.

The network's lenders and owners yesterday delivered a series of legal letters to each other in a bid to reopen negotiations, which have stalled.

Nine's chief executive, David Gyngell, reportedly told lenders the network would have to consider selling the company or closing its doors if negotiations did not resume.

CA is keeping abreast of events and is believed to be confident that Nine will have the money required to bid for the rights.

Browne said the network's financial troubles would have ''no impact'' on the negotiations. ''We are hopeful of retaining our current suite of rights,'' he said.

It is understood the NRL took Nine's financial situation into consideration and asked for an upfront, first-year payment.

Seven could conceivably bid for a slice of the action, such as the one-day series. It is also interested in the concept of night Tests.

Channel Ten, desperate for a slice of high-profile sport after opting not to retain the AFL rights last year, is also interested in Twenty20.

Nine has also expressed interest in broadcasting one BBL match per week in conjunction with Fox Sports.

Nine is keen to refresh its commentary team this summer, with current players to be used more often.

The contracts of several of its callers expire after this summer, including that of Richie Benaud, who turns 82 on Saturday.

Former captain Ricky Ponting will be asked to join Nine's team when he retires.

90 comments so far

  • Does this finally mean the end of Tony Grieg and Bill Lawry?

    You beauty!

    Commenter
    Umpire
    Location
    Adelaide
    Date and time
    October 04, 2012, 10:48AM
    • Could not agree more.

      Commenter
      coma
      Location
      out in the wastelands
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 12:27PM
    • well said umpire

      Commenter
      supaphreak
      Location
      mulgrave
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 12:51PM
    • They should give the rights for all national australian games of any sport to the ABC and then let them dish out rights to the commercial networks, win/win ABC gets more money the other stations can bid on part of the rights on on certain sports. Fair all round. Then people who like Bill Lawry and Richie can have them and the younger gen can have some of the newly retired cricketers. Channel 9 has murdered most australian sports for me

      Commenter
      Aleron
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 12:59PM
    • Add to that list Shane Warne and Mark Taylor

      Commenter
      Deavin
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 1:17PM
    • Oh....please...YES!!!

      Commenter
      Paul
      Location
      Chirnside Park
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 1:24PM
    • To be honest, I'd rather them than what would most likely happen, which is some generic non-cricketer "personalities". Although if 7 was smart and picked up the likes of Ryan Campbell, Brendan Julien etc, who have the experience with other channels...

      Commenter
      Lord Cheese
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 1:30PM
    • Aleron - And then the ABC makes money off the product the sports have worked hard to develop, in turn meaning that the sports have no money to fund either junior development or elite competition, meaning that when the top talented kids are deciding which sport to make a career in, that decision is made significantly easier as there is no living to be made in the game?

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 1:49PM
    • While Bill can be a pain at times I submit that he is one of the most perspicacious and intuitive of the lot. Would be absolutely delighted to be rid of Tubby, Chappell, Grieg and Slats.
      Also agree with Aileron that "Channel 9 has murdered most australian sports for me"

      Can't wait for this repugnant network to go broke.

      Commenter
      Rx
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 1:57PM
    • Be very careful what you wish for. If it goes to the ABC you get Kerry O'Keefe. If that happens they've lost me.

      Commenter
      David
      Location
      Vermont
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 2:48PM

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