Aussie Media Barons Square Up in Court

13 September 2005

One of the biggest media trials in Australian history has started this week in Sydney.

The case pits TV network Seven against the government-controlled telecoms company Telstra, Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd, Kerry Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting and two football leagues, among others.

Seven, controlled by self-made billionaire Kerry Stokes, alleges the 22 defendants conspired in 1999 and 2000 to prevent its pay TV-sports channel C7 from gaining broadcasting rights to several lucrative sporting events, leaving it without a winter schedule.

The defendants, all of whom have denied any wrongdoing, are said to have made a predatory bid for the rights to broadcast the Australian Football League on their jointly-owned pay-TV network Foxtel.

Top British lawyer Jonathan Sumption, counsel for Seven, alleged Foxtel's bid was not a market price.

C7 was scrapped in 2002 after its parent said it was no longer financially viable.

The defendants are being sued for A$1 billion ($773m; €621m; £420m). More than 50 lawyers and their assistants packed into the federal court in Sydney yesterday (Monday) for the opening of the case, which is expected to last for at least six months.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff