Federal Court case to centre around 2013 deal between Tennis & Seven

Corporate regulator ASIC is alleging Free TV Australia Chairman Harold Mitchell and former Tennis Australia president Stephen Healy withheld material information from the Tennis Australia board when it made its decision to award the 2013 broadcast rights to the Seven network.

A Federal Court case will centre around the decision to award broadcast rights to Seven for five years without a competitive tender process.

ASIC will allege both men failed to ensure the board was fully informed about the value of the rights, the interest of parties other than Seven in acquiring those rights and the best method of marketing them.

Mitchell, the former chair of advertising agency Mitchell Communications, is accused of passing on to the Seven Network confidential information about the views and negotiating position of management and the board and failing to inform the board that the Seven Network were concerned about the interest of Network Ten.

The two face a maximum penalty of $200,000 under civil penalty proceedings.

ASIC is seeking that both Mr Mitchell and Mr Healy are disqualified from managing corporations.

A Seven spokesperson said, “Seven West Media is disappointed in ASIC’s decision announced today regarding the Tennis Australia Directors. Seven has co-operated fully with ASIC during this long and drawn out investigation.

“As a bidder for the rights Seven, which had an exclusive negotiating period under its contract, complied with the process dictated by Tennis Australia.

“In Seven’s experience Harold Mitchell and Stephen Healy always acted in a highly professional and proper manner, and are of the highest character and reputation.

“As the matter is before the court Seven is unable to comment further.”

The hearing is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 30 in Melbourne.

In March 2018, Tennis Australia awarded the broadcast rights for the Australian Open for 2020 to 2024 to the Nine Network.

Source: Business Insider, ABC

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