Seven West Media has responded to federal court action by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) against adland veteran Harold Mitchell.
ASIC announced yesterday it had issued civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Mitchell and Stephen Healy, both former directors of Tennis Australia.
The regulator’s case relates to a decision made in 2013 by the Tennis Australia board to award the domestic TV broadcast rights for the Australian Open tournament to Seven for a five-year period without a competitive tender process.
ASIC has put forward a string of accusations against Mitchell and Healy, including that the pair withheld information from the Tennis Australia board when it made its decision to award the domestic broadcast rights.
Mitchell is also alleged to have passed on confidential information to Seven about the interest of its competitors in acquiring the rights, as well as downplaying the interests of other parties and encouraging the Tennis Australia board to go with Seven instead of putting the rights out to competitive tender.
In a statement to B&T, a Seven West Media spokesperson said the company was “disappointed” in ASIC’s decision to take court action against Mitchell and Healy.
“Seven has co-operated fully with ASIC during this long and drawn out investigation,” the spokesperson said.
“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.”