Clock ticking for CA as Channel 7 sets bombshell deadline

    If they fail to do so, it’s understood Seven has told CA they will reconsider whether they want to stay part of the bidding process.The move came as Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley indicated on Monday morning that the new broadcast rights deal is not set to be signed off on now until the New Year.Cricket sources say that is due to the fact CA is attempting to negotiate a timeline to resolve the rights based around the consideration that it’s now holiday period for executives.Leading directors from Seven, Nine and Paramount, including Seven chief executive James Warburton and Nine CEO Mike Sneesby are either overseas or have been away.Seven won’t necessarily withdraw from the bidding if the 5pm Tuesday deadline passes, but sources say the network will want answers on what the process entails from here before deciding whether or not to stay in the race – frustrated at a process they feel has been meandering. It’s understood Seven submitted a contract proposal to CA and informed them of the deadline over Christmas. Hockley remained tight-lipped about the tense broadcast race, but suggested no resolution was imminent.“I can’t talk about commercial in confidence discussions. Scheduling is a big part of those types of discussions,” Hockley said on Monday.“What I will say is those discussions are progressing well and we will have more to say in the New Year.”Channel 7 is already suing Cricket Australia in the Federal Court, attempting to terminate its current broadcasting contract based on a belief the Big Bash League hasn’t fulfilled its quality obligations as a competition.It’s unknown how CA will react to having a deadline put on them with relations with Seven already tense.Seven has told Cricket Australia that if their broadcasting offer is accepted, they would drop the Federal Court action.Despite the deadline threat, cricket sources feel that current rights holders Channel 7 and Fox Sports are still the most likely to land the new rights.Channel 7 has submitted a contract proposal to Cricket Australia which is essentially a rollover of its current broadcasting arrangement with Fox Sports.Cricket Australia wants to stay with Fox Sports as its streaming and pay per view partner, but the question remains, who they will match with as a free-to-air partner.The deadline may bring Paramount and Channel 10 back into the frame.The US streaming giant has already put a massive $1.5 billion offer on the table, and although CA is hesitant about linking with a service not recognised for its reach in sport, Seven’s bold play may once again set the cat among the pigeons.Doubts remain over how serious Channel 9 can get with its bidding given it has just bought the Olympics rights for an estimated $320 million, on top of already holding the Australian Open Tennis ($85 million) and the NRL ($100 million).

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