Harold Mitchell Tipped Off Seven Of Rival Australian Open Bid: ASIC

Harold Mitchell Tipped Off Seven Of Rival Australian Open Bid: ASIC
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Former Tennis Australia director and media veteran Harold Mitchell told Seven West Media that Network 10 was looking to steal the Australian Open TV rights from it in 2013.

That is just one of the latest allegations against Mitchell being made by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in the Federal Court this week.

ASIC also alleges Mitchell passed confidential information to Seven during the sale of the rights and informed the network that rival Network 10 was also interested in the rights.

It is also alleged former Tennis Australia director Stephen Healy was involved, although not to the same extent as Mitchell.

Seven thought it had exclusive negotiating rights at the time, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

In proceedings on Monday, the court heard emails between Seven West Media executive Bruce McWilliam and Tennis Australia, after McWilliam learned of Network 10’s potential bid.

McWilliam called Tennis Australia’s conduct “insulting” and “unnecessary” and told the sporting organisation “we are very disappointed that you would meet with the 10 Network”.

In another 2013 letter from McWilliam to Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes, recently-appointed Seven CEO James Warburton, who was with Network 10 at the time, is also mentioned.

“Harold [Mitchell] says Ten has been down trying to upset the apple cart … Warburton is involved,” the letter said.

ASIC counsel Michael Pearce said the letters show it was Mitchell who passed on the information to Seven.

“Seven clearly knew about 10’s interest,” he said. “That was communicated to them by Mr Mitchell.”

The latest allegations against Mitchell come as another chapter in the proceedings initiated by ASIC in November 2018.

Since the allegations were first made, Mitchell has stepped down from his positions as Free TV Australia chairman and as a member of the Tennis Australia board.

ASIC is seeking to proof both Mitchell and Healy breached the Corporations Act, which would disqualify both from being company directors.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing and are defending the proceedings.

 

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