Sussex back ECB over TV issue
Sussex have thrown their support behind the ECB in the debate over whether home Ashes series should be shown live on free-to-air television.
An independent panel chaired by David Davies last week put forward a proposal that England-Australia Tests on home soil should be returned to the Government’s list of ‘crown jewel’ sporting events.
That would deny pay-TV broadcasters such as BSkyB, who last year paid £200million to renew their exclusive deal with the ECB to show home live Tests until 2016, from bidding for the rights.
ECB chief executive David Collier has expressed concern over the future of grassroots cricket should the selling price for the rights fall, a view echoed by Sussex chairman Jim May.
“Within cricket, we recognise that there are potential risks to the profile of the game from the inability of the terrestrial TV stations to offer cricket coverage on financial terms, which recognise the value of the sport,” he said.
“It is our view that the Sky TV contract has offered exposure to parts of the game that would not have gained that otherwise.
“With county one day and T20 matches televised regularly, plus women’s and under-19 internationals, the amount of cricket on television has increased significantly and is a direct result of their investment in the sport.
“Whilst free-to-air exposure would increase viewing numbers, the risk to revenue would have a major impact on participation and investment programmes in the local cities, towns and villages.
“With schools struggling to support cricket in the summer, where would those children captivated by the game go to learn this noble sport?
“I hope that the ECB and Panel can come to a suitable resolution, which protects the progress made to date and ultimately offers greater scope for a wide range of future benefits for the sport.
“At Sussex, we will do all we can to support the process and will watch its progress with great interest.”