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Cricket Australia rejects rumours ABC will lose radio rights

James Sutherland praises ‘fantastic relationship’ with national broadcaster

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Cricket Australia has labelled reports the ABC is poised to lose its radio rights as ‘mischievous and incorrect’.
Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Cricket Australia’s outgoing boss, James Sutherland, says reports that the ABC is on the verge of being excluded from the next round of radio broadcasting rights are “mischievous and incorrect”.

Sutherland, who announced his retirement at chief executive of CA last week, appeared on ABC radio in Melbourne on Friday to address rumours that cricket’s governing body was considering ending its 80-year partnership with the national broadcaster.

“We’ve had a fantastic relationship with the ABC over a long period, [more than] any other broadcaster on radio or TV,” he said. “From time to time as part of our business cycle we review our contracts and go through that process and [we have] never been in a position to think about not having the ABC as a partner.”

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Sutherland said a new broadcasting deal between CA and the ABC was “not far away”. He said negotiations between broadcasters were “getting to the pointy end” and the reports were “nothing but mischievous”.

“It’s a non-exclusive arrangement just as in the past [and the timing is] more related to us being able to announce all of our partners at the same time,” he said.

Reports that CA was considering dumping the ABC came only months after the decision was made to cut ties with Channel Nine thanks to the new TV deal.

It sparked a predictable outcry from fans, and Sutherland said he was “not surprised” by the reaction.

“I’m one of those fans as well and have been since I was a little kid,” he said. “When I’m listening on the radio that’s how I consume or engage with cricket. It’s a highly valued partnership.”

Sutherland said he had spoken to the director of ABC radio, Michael Mason, after the reporting on Thursday and they had “both confirmed to each other our commitment to see this through”.

Speculation that CA was considering dumping ABC was first published on Channel Nine’s Wide World of Sports website but was also pushed by Eddie McGuire on Thursday.

“I heard a very interesting whisper yesterday,” Eddie said on Triple M’s The Hot Breakfast. “There is some strong mail going around that the ABC may lose the cricket on the radio.”

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