Advanced Television

Sport back on UK FTA

January 26, 2009

Live international cricket could be among sports to return to terrestrial television in some form following the completion of a ¬government-commissioned review into which events should be protected for ¬free-to-air broadcasters.

As the former FA executive director David Davies and a panel of former sports¬persons, broadcasters and academics begins an independent review into the so-called crown jewels legislation, it is understood the culture secretary Andy Burnham favours restoring cricket to the A list, perhaps in its Twenty20 form.

It is believed that placing international Twenty20 cricket on the list would be ¬welcomed by free-to-air broadcasters such as the BBC, which would find it easier to ¬schedule than Test cricket, and appeal to potential new and younger audiences.

As broadcasters and governing bodies begin jockeying for position ahead of the first review of the list for 10 years, the BBC is also expected to argue that the Ryder Cup and British and Irish Lions rugby union tours should be added to the list of protected events such as the FA Cup final, the Derby and the football World Cup that have “special national resonance” and “serve to unite the nation”.

Any move to add to the list will be fiercely resisted by pay-TV broadcasters such as Sky, Setanta and ESPN, who will argue that governing bodies are best placed to decide what is best for their sports. Uefa and Fifa, which have ¬challenged the concept of listed-events legislation in Brussels, are also expected to argue that the restrictions should be relaxed.


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