TV mouths look for new sport goals

FOLLOWING Channel Seven’s decision not to match the Channel Nine consortium bid for the television rights to the AFL, Channel Nine is already moving to build its commentary team.

It’s a tough call for a sport previously dominated by Seven for decades, but Kerry Packer’s station is not the only one examining their future.

Seven’s commentators like Perth-based Dennis Cometti will also have to decide whether their careers will evolve at the station without the AFL.

Mr Cometti is understood to have a long-term contract with Seven.

Seven claims it will retain the leadership in sport following the loss of the AFL through agreements to broadcast events like the winter Olympics in February 2002 and the Commonwealth Games in Manchester later that year.

Seven director of corporate development Simon Francis said both Mr Cometti and the host of Basil’s Footy Show, Basil Zempilas, are essential to the network beyond the 2001 football season.

Seven claimed that with increased costs, the AFL broadcasting rights would be $89 million annually, a figure they considered too high.

Based on a five-match schedule, the AFL costs would be 75 per cent higher than the award-winning drama Blue Heelers, according to Seven.

Nine has announced that Brad Hardie is joining the Nine sports program State of the Game, ahead of the 2002 season.

Mr Hardie does commentary on ALF football for 6PR.

The Nine team is expected to spend the next year building a strong commentary team for their first season in 2002 and experienced commentators would be an asset in its first footy season.

For this reason, Seven is expected to work hard to ensure Mr Cometti’s commentary skills are used for a range of other sports

“The challenge for Nine is to uncover or discover a commentary and production team to produce and host a sport they’ve never done before,” Mr Francis said.

Seven will face similar challenges when they host the Ashes tour in 2001.

Seven was unable to comment on whether Mr Cometti would be part of a commentary team for the cricket.

Mr Cometti was unable to comment on his role at Seven.

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