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BREAKING NEWS: Cricket Coming To A Device Near You As Foxtel Makes Monster Bid

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Cricket could be coming to a device near you with Foxtel tipped to have put in a bid to broadcast all cricket matches including the Big Bash and Test Cricket.

What is not clear is what role a free to air network will play especially as Australia has tough anti-siphoning regulations.

ChannelNews understands that Foxtel is offering between $160-$170M a year to secure the rights. The advantage that Foxtel has is that they can charge for a subscription to the cricket Vs a free to air having to rely on advertising as their prime revenue earner.

According to Fairfax, free-to-air television networks would likely be given the option to broadcast test matches in simulcast in a deal with Foxtel, but under the condition that a good portion of Twenty20 and one-day games would be kept for pay TV alone.

Under the management of Patrick Delany, the former boss of Fox Sports Foxtel is set to be an aggressive bidder for exclusive sports content.

The rights deal has typically made up about 60 per cent to 80 per cent of Cricket Australia’s total annual income and is used to pay players, fund junior programs and cover administration costs.

Foxtel’s all-in bid of $800 million to $850 million is getting within the ball park of what Cricket Australia was hoping to secure prior to the ball tampering saga that saw sponsors walk away from the game.

Fairfax said that by accepting a Foxtel bid could also leave the sport in a difficult position with Australia’s anti-siphoning laws, which aim to ensure Australian viewers have free access to major games. Twenty20 and one-day matches played in Australia with a senior Australian representative team are on the anti-siphoning list.

There are exceptions, which include allowing pay TV to buy the rights if national or commercial broadcasters haven’t obtained them 26 weeks before the start of an event, but making these sports paid-only does go against the intentions behind the rules in the first place.

An event is removed from the anti-siphoning list if no one has bought the rights 12 weeks before it starts.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told Fairfax Media at the beginning of the negotiations that all parties were expected to comply with the anti-siphoning scheme.

“Whilst the anti-siphoning scheme has never prevented a listed event from being shown exclusively on pay TV, and the government has no role in the allocation of sports broadcast rights, the government’s view nonetheless is that test matches played in Australia should be available to the public on free-to-air television,” he said.

A Cricket Australia spokesman said the sporting body was “currently undergoing a confidential process, and when we have finalised our rights, we will look to make an announcement on this”. Foxtel declined to comment.