29 Mar 19

Channel Nine says it remains uncertain if it will match Ten’s $500 million bid to poach the rights to international and domestic cricket.

Nine’s managing director, Jeff Browne, said the network was undecided about launching a counter-offer, with the Cricket Australia deadline next Monday.

He said money was not the only issue, and his network had had positive discussions with CA, despite industry speculation there were simmering tensions between the two parties.

Talks broke down earlier this month over the issue of domestic cricket, with CA lodging a writ in the Supreme Court of Victoria, due to be heard on Friday.

As reported by Fairfax Media, the writ is to clarify the status of the Big Bash League and whether it is subject to Nine’s last right of refusal – given this form of the game did not exist in Australia at the time of Nine’s last deal.

Nine sources labelled the legal case by CA a ”sideshow”, saying it was disappointed with the games being played by CA’s lawyers given the network has no interest in the BBL.

Ten’s five-year offer is understood to be worth $400 million for the international rights and $100 million for the BBL.

Nine argues it only needs to match the $400 million to retain the rights.

Nine’s two US-based hedge fund shareholders, Apollo Management and Oaktree Capital, have reportedly suggested they do not want Nine to bid for the rights but are willing to budge if they can be persuaded the investment is worthwhile. The network reportedly has new debts of about $700 million.

Nine’s nine-member board includes four hedge fund directors, and former federal treasurer Peter Costello.

Fox Sports has broadcast the BBL, but Ten is favoured to at least grab this even if the international rights remain with Nine. Ten has not ruled out on-selling some matches to pay TV.

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