The
word is spreading fast and Crikey hears that the deputy chairman of
PBL, Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer is none too impressed that the Nine
Network missed the free to air TV rights for the one day international
cricket games from England this winter, which were snapped up by the
rival Seven Network.

This is despite a clash for some of the one day games with the Wimbledon
tennis championships that Nine will be showing from June 20 to July 3.
A total of five one day games involving Australia from the tri-nations
tournament with England and Bangladesh would clash with the tennis.
They would be June 23, 25, 28, 30 and July 2, which is the final and
would involve Australia and England.

The 20/20
international between Australia and England will be played just before
the tennis starts and the NatWest series between Australia and England,
played as a warm up for the tests, will happen after the tennis
finishes. These will be on July 7, 10 and 12.

PBL sources
say that Mr Packer has told Nine and its CEO, David Gyngell, he isn’t
very happy that Seven has the games. But that’s life, Nine could not
have everything although sometimes competitors think that’s the
ambition.

It would seem that Mr Packer isn’t upset that
Nine missed the Ashes, just that rival Seven has the One Day Games,
which he helped refine and make into what they are today through World
Series Cricket.

But Nine says it is impossible to do both,
although sources say it has been covered in the past. When Nine did it
had to handle a PR nightmare with a lot of criticism. (Multi-channelling
would have solved that one, wouldn’t have it?). But again that’s all
life in the fast lane of TV

The ODIs are all programmed for
a Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night, which would have meant
Nine could husband its stocks of CSI programs, ER and even Cold Case
and Without a Trace, or used them more judiciously to fight Seven.

Seven
will be able to husband episodes of Lost and possibly Desperate
Housewives
and start Dancing with the Stars third series later in the
year.

Ten will have Big Brother on Sunday nights at least to go up against the cricket.

Seven
can’t expect strong ratings for the games between Australia and
Bangladesh, but between England and Australia, given the expected
closeness, they could very well get good numbers for the first four or
so hours.

Nine didn’t want the Ashes (nor did Seven). They
are on SBS which doesn’t have a prime time and can afford to show them
without damaging its commercial interests.

All up there’s
between 100 and 110 hours of programming involved in the ODIs and Seven
sources say the cost is less than SBS paid for the Tests. The price was reduced by the fact that Fox Sports will carry both the ODIs and the Tests.

The
next big story will be who Seven names for its commentary
panel (and SBS as well) and whether there are any of the existing Nine
panel on either. Now that will give you an indication just
how deeply Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer feels, especially about Seven
and its snaring the ODIs.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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