Tennis Australia defends broadcast rights deal

Tennis Australia vice-president Harold Mitchell has defended the governing body’s decision to sell the latest domestic media rights for the Australian Open to commercial broadcaster Seven without a tender.

Seven agreed a new five-year deal for the rights, which cover the Australian Open and the Australian Open Series, from 2015 to 2019 in June. The Australian Financial Review newspaper reported it to be worth around A$35m ($31.8m/ €24.4m) per year.

Rival broadcaster Network Ten criticised the decision to sell the rights without a tender. Mitchell told the Australian Financial Review he did not believe Ten could better Seven’s offer, despite Ten’s claims it would have been prepared to pay up to A$45m per year.

“Ten wouldn’t have got up a better deal. They might have said that they would but they wouldn’t,” he said. “They wouldn’t have been able to pay it. That was my judgment and that has been my life, judgment.

“Although we did need to make sure that the process was absolutely appropriate and right – and Tennis has done extremely well.

“Seven paid an appropriate cost . . . and over a long period of time we have had a good relationship with them. That didn’t need to be tested.”

Seven signed its new deal during a six-month exclusive negotiating period, which ran until the end of September. The broadcaster renewed all its existing free-to-air, pay-television and internet rights.