A spot of tea. It’s the “deal of the decade”, according to the papers this morning — the record $2.5 billion that will flow into AFL coffers from the broadcasters that won the rights to Australia’s greatest sport. The press conference yesterday looked like a line-up of power, with AFL chief Gillon McLachlan flanked by Seven’s Kerry Stokes as well as News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch — media mogul central. The Australian Financial Review writes this morning that negotiations “accelerated rapidly” once Murdoch was in town, but when it came to the actual presser everything seemed to slow right down. It was scheduled for 4.30, but the large crowd of journos was kept waiting for an hour to hear the big news, getting closer and closer to deadline for the 6pm news bulletins, according to the Oz, because negotiations went right down to the wire. So what was the hold-up?
Murdoch and News Corp CEO Robert Thomson arrived in nearly matching outfits around 4pm and Stokes soon after, but it wasn’t the fine print that held them up — journos were told that the group was busy having dinner before facing questions. While we understand that it’s hard to think when you’re hungry, surely it could have waited? When a journo asked who picked up the tab, McLachlan said the AFL would be covering it — the league is about to come into some money, after all.
Having done the AFL deal and slung a few barbs at the NRL, the 84-year-old Murdoch family patriarch flew out of Australia last night for the Los Angeles on his new $84 million corporate jet. Now we have to wait to see if there will be any musical chairs among the editor class of News Corp papers. From the pictures of the AFL press conference, it was Rupert and News CEO Robert Thomson, plus Kerry Stokes. No sign of the co-executive chair of News, Lachlan Murdoch.