Govt, Nine, forge Indy deal

by Chris Griffith
Published 9 January 1994 in The Sun-Herald


my face


A confidential contra deal is being thrashed out as a sweetener for the Nine Network during negotiations of its contract to televise the Gold Coast IndyCar Grand Prix.

The Queensland Government yesterday confirmed that the government's Telecommunications Strategy Consultative Committee discussed a new arrangement late last year which involves payment in kind for Nine's televising and marketing of the race.

The government has been renegotiating the 1990 Indy contract with Nine, which provided the TV station with a payout of $6.25 million over five years as well as the right to market and televise the race exclusively.

Late last year Queensland Travel and Tourist Corporation chairman Jim Kennedy said Nine had agreed to forego a $1 million annual broadcast fee.

Sources had told The Sun-Herald that the committee, which is attached to the state government's Administrative Services Department, discussed a contra deal which involved the government purchasing an extra $2 million of data services from Q-Net, a national telecommunications reseller owned by Nine.

The purchase was expected to rise to $4 million over two years. Any further rationalisation was to go to public tender.

Administrative Services Minister Glen Milliner could not be contacted, but chairman of the State Government's Purchasing Council Ross Pitt confirmed the proposed deal but said it had not been finalised.

Mr Pitt said Nine first proposed the arrangement, which was totally above board.

"As far as I am concerned, this is a good deal provided we can make it happen -- hopefully it will be completed by the end of February," he said.

"The whole package is much better for the government. The Q-Net arrangement is five per cent cheaper than anything we can get on the Telecom tariff."

Nine would not comment.

A spokeswoman for Tourist Corporation chief executive Ken Rosebery said it was not policy to discuss the race's commercial arrangements.

Q-Net managing director Rick Strangman yesterday confirmed his company tendered for the government's data services in July but said he was unaware of the proposed new arrangement with the Indy.

"We're in the process of designing a network for the state government through Pacific Star for data services," he said. "The project is currently in the network design phase."

by Chris Griffith