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Volume 6 No. 195


The National Rugby League has described reports of a A$50M ($52M) deal for controversial bookmaker Tom Waterhouse to be rugby league's betting partner "exaggerated," according to the AAP. The game's governing body said that "it has yet to reach an agreement with Waterhouse, though talks are continuing." But reports of a A$50M deal over five years, split between the NRL and broadcaster Channel Nine, "are pure speculation." Waterhouse's controversial appearances on Channel Nine during rugby league broadcasts this year "were the subject of questioning at a senate committee hearing in Sydney on Wednesday." NRL GM of Strategic Projects Shane Mattiske, asked by Committee Chair Andrew Wilkie about the reported A$50M deal, said: "I am suggesting the numbers floating around the market are exaggerated. You are speculating on the number. I am indicating to you the number is not correct." Asked by committee member Senator Nick Xenophon whether there was a conflict of interest in the NRL negotiating a deal with a bookie while attempting to regulate gambling on league, Mattiske said: "The integrity of the competition is our outmost priority for the game. We would not allow any arrangement to threaten that" (AAP, 3/27).

GREY AREA: In Sydney, Aston & Ralston wrote Waterhouse has been stripped of his commentary role as Channel Nine and the NRL "seek to counter a growing backlash against the infiltration of gambling into live sport and its effects on children." Execs from both organizations have conceded the line between bookmaker and commentator had been "blurred" as a result of Waterhouse's big money sponsorship of Channel Nine. The joint parliamentary committee on gambling reform was told that "he had been stripped of his Channel Nine microphone." He will no longer be seen in the same frame as other commentators and "will be restricted to talking about odds rather than giving his assessment of play" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/28). Mattiske said, "What you'll see in the most recent round, and moving forward, is a clear separation when someone is talking about sports odds and when the commentary team is talking about the match itself" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/28).

WITHOUT A TRACE: In Sydney, Dean Ritchie wrote the 30-year-old bookie, son of racing royalty Gai and Robbie Waterhouse, "was nowhere to be seen, with NRL and Nine executives fronting the committee" on Wednesday. Senator Richard Di Natale said, "People watching footy with their kids don't want to see Tom Waterhouse ads rammed down their throats, and see pseudo commentators giving odds. People are very, very angry at this sport being enmeshed with gambling" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/28).

Match of the Day anchor Gary Lineker "is understood to have agreed a new deal to keep him at the BBC," according to Charles Sale of the London DAILY MAIL. Lineker "will have to take a significant drop" in his current £2M ($3M)-a-year contract "due to both cost-cutting across the board and the fact that his last contract including his work on the BBC’s coverage of the London Olympic Games." Any drop in salary "will be cushioned by Lineker’s contracts with Arabic TV network Al Jazeera" -- for whom he presents the station's Champions League coverage -- and his "long-running deal with Walkers crisps." It is understood a part of the new deal "will involve him doing more Sunday Match of the Day programmes when the flagship fixtures are on that day" (DAILY MAIL, 3/27).

Channel 4 has partnered with sports radio station TalkSport to "promote its coverage of this year's Grand National race in a multiplatform campaign," according to Louise Ridley of MEDIA WEEK. The activity, planned and bought by OMD UK, "will feature promotions" that aired on TalkSport Tuesday afternoon on the 'Hawksbee and Jacobs' show. The spots will use horse racing personalities to present a Channel 4 branded audio guide, "leading listeners through the course of the popular steeplechase race" to be held on April 6. On race day, the UTV Media-owned station "will also broadcast branded Channel 4 interviews and editorial features" on its 'Weekend Sports Breakfast' show (MEDIA WEEK, 3/26).

French free-to-air channel M6 President Nicolas de Tavernost revealed the channel "could be interested" in the media rights to Roland Garros in France, according to L'EXPRESS. The channel is studying "with interest" the next invitation to tender from the French Tennis Federation (FFT). Tavernost said, "Everything interests us, its a question of price and profitability." The last invitation to tender for the rights to the tournament was won by free-to-air channel France Televisions and covered the '10-13 period. The group pays €16M ($20.4M) annually to the FFT for the rights to the competition. The number "represents 6.9% of Rolland Garros' revenue." Qatari channel beIN Sport "is also interested" in the rights (L'EXPRESS, 3/27).

German public broadcaster ZDF "obtained high ratings for its broadcast of Germany's World Cup qualifying game against Kazakhstan" on Tuesday night, according to David Grzeschik of QUOTEN METER. A total of 10.69 million viewers tuned in to watch Germany's 4-1 victory. The game, which started at 8:45pm German time, recorded a 34.7% market share. In the target demographic 14-49, the game attracted 3.55 million viewers, which equaled a 30.4% share (QUOTEN METER, 3/27).

FRANCE: OZAP reported free-to-air channel TF1's broadcast of the World Cup qualifying match between France and Spain pulled in 10.3 million viewers and a 37.3% share. A peak of 11.8 million viewers was registered. Spain won the match 1-0 to take control of Group I (OZAP, 3/27).

SPAIN: The EFE reported free-to-air channel Telecinco's broadcast of the game had 1.522 million viewers and a 52.5% market share. The "golden minute" occurred at 10:50pm when 13.497 million viewers were tuned in and a 62.4% share. It was the most watched Spanish World Cup qualifier in 20 years (EFE, 3/27).

A survey revealed Indian Premier League's TV ratings for its sixth edition are expected to rise 2.6% to 3.9. According to a joint survey by media and communication group WPP's analytics company Meritus and media buying and planning agency MEC India, the average TV rating for the season "is expected to go up" from 3.8 last year to 3.9 this year, an increase of 2.6% (PTI, 3/27). ... Channel Ten Chair Lachlan Murdoch has paid a personal visit to Cricket Australia headquarters to "step up the network's pursuit of the sport's broadcast rights." Murdoch was in CA's Jolimont building on Tuesday to "woo cricket chiefs after the network made an offer," reported to be worth A$350M ($365.2M) over five years, to steal the prized rights from its traditional home on the Nine Network (THE AGE, 3/28).