PBL Extricates Execs from Oz Media Trial Appearance

02 March 2006

In the latest twist to one of Australia's largest media lawsuits, defendant Publishing and Broadcasting says it will not call any current or former executives to give evidence.

The decision will come as a relief to Packer clan-controlled PBL's erstwhile ceo Nick Falloon and finance boss Geoff Kleemann. They will not face cross-examination in court over claims by plaintiff Seven Network that PBL colluded with other media firms in 2002 to kill off Seven's pay TV arm C7.

Seven is suing PBL, Foxtel, News Ltd and others for A$1.1 billion ($813m; €680m; £459m) damages. It alleges that its rivals drove C7 out of business by depriving it of rights to show Australian Rules Football in 1999 and 2000 [WAMN: 22-Sept-05].

It claims the motive was to create pay TV monopolies for program supplier Fox Sports, owned 50/50 by News Ltd and PBL, and retailer Foxtel, which the pair jointly own with telco Telstra.

Past and present execs from the latter, from News Ltd and from telco Optus are still due to appear during the case which opened last September and which, warns the presiding judge, could grind on for another three years.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff