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Volume 10 No. 22


Australian football's "long-awaited broadcast deal is expected to be announced" Monday, and Football Federation Australia can thank Sydney FC's newest player Alessandro Del Piero "for helping it squeeze every last possible dollar out of Fox Sports and SBS" for a A$39M ($40.4M)-a-year deal, according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. It is understood that the federal government "finally signed off on the deal on Friday night, though much of the detail of the A$156M windfall has been out in the public domain for months." It is believed Fox Sports "will pay close to A$32M a year for the rights to televise all five A-League matches every week, as well as Australia's World Cup qualifiers, while SBS will contribute A$7M." For the first time in A-League history, one game will be shown live on free-to-air TV through SBS, while World Cup qualifiers will be shown on the network on a one-hour delay (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/19). In Sydney, Nick Tabakoff reported sources "close to the contract" said that the deal would be for four or five years. Sports analysts believe that the jump in the value of sports rights in Australia in recent months "underlines the crucial nature of live sport to TV in Australia." Repucom Australia Managing Dir Lynne Anderson said sport was "at the core of Australia's DNA as a nation." Anderson: "In an era of divergent choice and audience fragmentation, the power of live sport is only enhanced. Live sport is appointment viewing" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/19).

CHOICE WORDS FROM ITALY: In Sydney, Gatt added that "the deal to beam Sydney's games live into Italy on pay-TV" in the wake of the signing of Del Piero was being "touted as an exciting breakthrough for the A-League, but it has also left the competition open to huge criticism." While Del Piero was being "hailed for his brace of goals, the Italians took a swipe at the club, the players and the quality of football" following Friday's 4-2 loss to the Brisbane Roar, making it Sydney's third consecutive defeat. Broadcaster Eurosport described Del Piero, "who single-handedly kept his team in the game, as a lighthouse and the only one that has any clear idea of the game." Tuttosport's extended online headline last week read: "Sydney coach resigns. 'I cannot stand the pressure,'" alluding to the fact that Del Piero carries his teammates and condemning the A-League (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/19).

POKE THE GIANT: Also in Sydney, Bossi & Dillon noted the broadcast deal has been negotiated over a long time and was the FFA former CEO Ben Buckley's "final commitment to the game before stepping down." FFA CEO David Gallop is "excited by the A-League's potential to become a major player." Gallop said, "I think the sleeping giant metaphor, we've moved beyond that now. The giant is well and truly awake, out of bed, and out the front door, from what we've seen in terms of success of the A-League this season and also the continued growth of grassroots football" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/19).

The IOC "has criticised Indian cricket authorities, accusing them of attacking press freedom by preventing photographers from covering games between Indian and England," according to the London TELEGRAPH. IOC Press Commission Chair Kevan Gosper has asked the Int'l Cricket Council "to intervene to allow news organisations free access to the cricket games between two of the world's top teams." Int'l news organizations, including the AP, "suspended text and photo coverage of England's cricket tour of India on Wednesday because of new restrictions introduced by the BCCI." Gosper said, "The IOC strongly disagrees with these moves by the BCCI, which we believe are a direct attack on the freedom of the media to report from sporting events, and shows contempt for the sporting public around the world who would otherwise like to follow these important matches." The BCCI has banned photo-only agencies from covering games. Other int'l news organizations have also suspended coverage. The British press "has refused to publish photographs" of the match that began on Thursday in Ahmedabad (TELEGRAPH, 11/17).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India will pay more than Rs 120 crore ($21.7M) in damages to Zee Entertainment Enterprises for "arbitrarily" terminating in '07 its five-year contract with the TV channel for telecast rights of India's cricket matches played abroad, according to Dhananjay Mahapatra of the TNN. A three-member "arbitral tribunal" comprising two former Chief Justices of India, A S Anand and Y K Sabharwal, and retired Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna said, "In our view, the claimant is entitled to be awarded damages in view of illegal and unlawful termination of agreement by the respondent and also on account of illegal blacklisting." Zee and BCCI had signed an agreement on April 12, 2006 by which the TV channel was given exclusive telecast, radio broadcast and Internet rights of overseas matches through March 31, 2011. But after the Zee TV group started the Indian Cricket League, "things turned sour between the contracting parties." Zee had sought Rs 480 crore from '07 as damages. The tribunal accepted the argument that BCCI had illegally terminated the contract and thus "causing loss to the TV channel but did a recalculation" (TNN, 11/16).

German private-TV channel RTL "was unable to rack up big-time numbers for its F1 qualifying broadcast on Saturday, despite German driver Sebastian Vettel's chance to clinch a third consecutive driver's title on Sunday," according to David Grzeschik of QUOTEN METER. RTL obtained a 13.6% market share in the target demographic 14-49 with its live broadcast of the qualifying, which started at 7pm CET. Saturday's free practice from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, U.S., which RTL aired at 5:45pm CET, had a 10.8% share.

German public broadcaster ARD won Saturday's sports-ratings battle with its Bundesliga highlight show Sportschau. ARD attracted a total of 5.23 million viewers, which equaled a 20.7% market share. In the target demographic, the show was watched by 1.46 million viewers or a 16.4% share (QUOTEN METER, 11/18).