Ad veteran Harold Mitchell is alleged to have passed confidential Tennis Australia information to the Seven Network

Scott Barbour/Getty ImagesA file photo of Harold Mitchell watching the Women’s Singles Final match between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber at the 2016 Australian Open.
  • Advertising industry veteran Harold Mitchell is accused of passing confidential information to the Seven Network when he was a director of Tennis Australia.
  • ASIC has taken Mitchell and his former fellow Tennis Australia director Stephen Healy to the Federal Court over broadcast rights for the Australian Open.
  • In 2013, the Tennis Australia board awarded domestic television broadcast rights for the Australian Open to Seven for five years without a competitive tender process.

Corporate regulator ASIC has taken advertising industry veteran Harold Mitchell and former Tennis Australia president Stephen Healy to court over the awarding of Australian Open broadcast rights to the Seven network.

The Federal Court case relates to a decision in 2013 by the board of Tennis Australia to award domestic television broadcast rights for the Australian Open to Seven for five years without a competitive tender process.

ASIC alleges that both Mitchell and Healy withheld material information from the Tennis Australia board when it made its decision to award the broadcast rights.

And that they both failed to ensure the board was fully informed about the value of the rights, the interest of parties other than Seven in acquiring those rights and the best method of marketing them.

ASIC alleges the two failed to advise the board that Tennis Australia was likely to obtain better terms by putting the rights out to competitive tender.

Mitchell, the former chair of advertising agency Mitchell Communications, is also accused of passing on to the Seven Network confidential information about the views and negotiating position of Tennis Australia’s management and the board.

In March 2018, Tennis Australia awarded the broadcast rights for the Australian Open for 2020 to 2024 to the Nine Network.

Mitchell was a director of Tennis Australia from 2008 to October this year. From 2010 to 2015 he was the Vice President.

Healy was the President of Tennis Australia between October 2010 and April 2017.

The two face a maximum penalty of $200,000 under civil penalty proceedings.

Business Insider is attempting to reach Mitchell for comment.

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