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Volume 6 No. 197
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TV Deal To Lift Cricket Australia Into Billionaire League

Cricket Australia's media rights tally is likely to reach A$1B ($1.04B) "once new domestic broadcasting contracts are finalised this summer," according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. In a "development that will put the sport in the same financial stratosphere as Australian football and rugby league," cricket's overall take from worldwide and local broadcast arrangements is "set to hit 10 figures." TV-rights income represent about 80% of all Cricket Australia revenue, and it is "anticipated that pot of gold will increase significantly" due to the new Australian broadcast agreements, with Channel Nine and Fox Sports "negotiating to retain their rights." The new domestic rights contract is a five-year deal, as are the Australian Football League and National Rugby League deals, and "could be wrapped up by Nine during its exclusive negotiating period," which runs to Dec. 31. If the network fails to strike a deal with Cricket Australia by then, rival suitors Seven West Media and Network Ten are "ready to ensure a competitive market." The success of the Twenty20 Big Bash League, and interest from free-to-air channels in pinching the rights from Fox Sports, is also "tipped to trigger an explosion in the league's value," to as much as A$50M over five years (SMH, 10/26).

MAKING HISTORY: In Sydney, Peter Lalor wrote that Cricket Australia will have a female sit on its board for the first time after the governing body "received approval for its new governance structure." Businesswoman Jacquie Hey, mining corporation Rio Tinto Australia Managing Dir David Peever and former adidas Australia Managing Dir Kevin Roberts "were elected as independent directors" to the new nine-member board. The governance changes were "passed unanimously, ending a century-long era where a gerrymander of states controlled the game." Six state-appointed board members remain, however all directors will be independent by '15 (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/26).

In N.Y., Richard Lord wrote that "cricket's governance is changing -- but it's moving in all sorts of different directions." With the Int'l Cricket Council "effectively controlled by its most powerful members," the evolution of the way in which the game is run "continues to be haphazard and frustratingly inconsistent." Cricket Australia took a step in the right direction with the appointment on Sept. 28 of three independent directors. South Africa is at least "giving the appearance of getting their house in order." Cricket South Africa has appointed five independent directors. In both Australia and South Africa, the appointment of independent directors has "copped a certain amount of flak." For fans concerned about the game's growing commercialization, "putting it in the hands of people who appear to know more about money than cricket looks like a move in precisely the wrong direction." What cricket needs "is a blend of both groups" -- people who are "passionate about the game," but also people who have the necessary skills to run "the money-making behemoth that it has become." Like it or not, cricket is "a big business these days," and needs to be run by "people who know how big businesses work" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/24).