Paul White at Red Hill. Pic Annette Dew
Paul White at Red Hill. Pic Annette Dew

White calls for peace in NRL broadcast wars

Broncos boss Paul White has appealed for the code to broker peace in the broadcast war as he left the door ajar in the race to succeed Todd Greenberg as NRL chief executive.

The NRL has 23 days in which to finalise revised TV rights deals before Project Apollo's May 28 relaunch with ARLC chairman Peter V'landys locked in delicate high-level talks with Channel 9 and Foxtel bosses.

While V'landys is confident players will accept 80 per cent of their salaries for this season, he faces a more vexing issue - formalising deals with broadcasters that will safeguard the future of the NRL and its 16 clubs.

It is feared a 20-round campaign could see the NRL lose more than $60 million in TV revenue this season and until V'landys can thrash out definitive numbers with Channel 9 and Fox, NRL clubs are in financial limbo.

Relive classic NRL matches from the 60s to today on KAYO SPORTS. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

White lauded the leadership of V'landys but warned pressure is building on cash-strapped clubs as key stakeholders the NRL, Channel 9 and Fox look to find broadcasting common ground.

"We have worked as hard as any code to fulfil our obligations and I would hope our broadcast partners see that and enter negotiations to reach some finalisation in the next couple of weeks," the Broncos CEO said.

"They are tough negotiations and the broadcast partners (Nine and Fox) will have numbers in mind and have a deal they believe will be commensurate with the value we provide as a game.

"We will be fighting for the value that we believe is at stake.

"We have contracts locked in with those broadcast partners and they have been developed on the basis of playing 24 games of footy and three State of Origin games.

"The longer it remains outstanding, the more pressure it puts on everyone.

"As clubs, we don't know what our funding model is going to look like. The players have some surety over what their deals will look like, that was necessary, but we are really keen for these deals to be finalised in this restructured season.

"Peter V'landys and Andrew Abdo (interim NRL CEO) are leading the charge there and we would like to see it concluded sooner rather than later."

While Abdo was appointed interim CEO a fortnight ago, there is a push for Broncos boss White to formally be installed as Greenberg's successor.

White was initially supposed to walk away from Brisbane at the end of the season. AAP Image/Darren England.
White was initially supposed to walk away from Brisbane at the end of the season. AAP Image/Darren England.

White is off-contract at season's end and initially indicated his plan to walk away from the Broncos, although the COVID-19 crisis could convince him to stay for another term.

A former mining executive, White is highly-respected by his NRL club CEO cohorts and is keeping an open mind on the prospect of succeeding Greenberg.

"It (a push for him to be NRL CEO) drew a fair bit of public comment. I see I wasn't voted for down south (in NSW)," he said.

"To be honest, it's not a role I've ever coveted. My focus is very much on the Broncos. With where the club is at at the moment, we're in the midst of a global pandemic, I want to leave the club in good shape and my focus is the Broncos.

"I've said to my chairman and board that I'll be here for as long as it takes to see us through the other side. To be honest, under Peter's leadership, he's appointed Andrew Abdo in an interim role, they are a long way from contemplating a recruitment process for a new CEO."

Asked if he would apply for the position, he said: "I don't think it's a job you apply for ... if someone thinks you are good enough to do it, someone reaches out to you. It's not something that demands a CV into someone's in tray. People have had a fair line of sight over me.

"I wouldn't put a firm timeline on anything. When I'm satisfied we are through this, I'll talk to the board. Now isn't the time for me to be thinking about what is next."

Originally published as White calls for peace in NRL broadcast wars