Viewers slate cable and satellite exclusive deals

Eight out of ten viewers think that major sporting events and films should not be shown exclusively on cable or satellite television, according to a survey.

The disclosure comes in the week following the exclusive showing on Sky of the Tyson vs Holyfield championship fight and the Lions rugby union tour of South Africa.

The figures come from CIA MediaLab’s latest Sensor survey, which reveals that 81 per cent of interviewees think it is a bad idea that these stations are able to broadcast such properties exclusively.

Public attitudes to this move are hardening. When CIA first asked this question in 1995 only 69 per cent felt this way.

Even people who have cable and satellite agreed with this statement. Of these viewers, 77 per cent said it was wrong such programmes were exclusive to these channels.

Of all those interviewed, 77 per cent thought Heritage Secretary Chris Smith should increase the ten listed sports, which Parliament decreed must have live coverage on terrestrial TV. These are: the Wimbledon tennis championships, the FA Cup final, the Scottish FA Cup final, the Grand National, the Derby, the Olympic Games, cricket test matches in England, and FIFA World Cup finals.

Head of CIA MediaLab Anthony Jones says: “As the trend for ‘buying’ sports can only continue, broadcasters must manage the public’s expectations and demonstrate what they are offering by providing exclusive coverage.”

Publicly, Sky says it is reviewing the data. However, privately the station says it brings many sports to TV that rarely got coverage on terrestrial TV, for example live club rugby, table tennis, and extreme sports.

CIA Sensor is a monthly survey of 500 adults, exploring their use of and opinions on media and advertising.

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