Australian sporting history was made last
week, in case you missed it, and we’re not talking about the record $780
million TV deal for the AFL rights. No, we’re talking about the AFL landing such a deal
and not being available to the media for comment for an entire day.
In the most unlikely quinella in history,
Eddie McGuire was also unavailable for comment on the same day.
Opinions among hacks differ as to why AFL heavies have been so
far underground they might be working in the reopened Ballarat gold mine.
Having held an all-in press conference on December 23 to trumpet the acceptance
of Kerry Packer’s deathbed bid for the rights (making such a song and dance to
appease Packer himself, according to Damian Barrett in the Herald Sun),
League bosses not only didn’t hold a press conference for the Seven-Ten
confirmation but refused to return calls that night.
One newspaper reporter was told that AFL chief executive
Andrew Demetriou had returned to his holiday, which seems kind of unlikely,
less than 24 hours after such a deal, and before speaking to the press.
On the second day, Demetriou was answering
one-on-one calls from newspapers and also spoke on 3AW, which would suggest the
real reason behind the strange silence.
Simply, there are so many media
organizations with vested interests in this stoush, so many TV egos and bad
blood, and so much still to be decided (chiefly the pay TV question, with
Foxtel still literally in the dock, facing Seven’s massive legal challenge
regarding the death of C7) that League officials appear to have decided not to
tap-dance until a few clouds of dust have settled.
It might not be a bad strategy. While Seven
and Ten are confirmed as the rights holders, much of the fine detail remains
undefined, including how and when matches will be beamed into NSW and Queensland.