The chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has slammed the BBC for failing to bid on the broadcast rights for live cricket coverage. The ECB has called for a wider debate into the future of public sector sports broadcasting.
The criticism came after the ECB announced it has agreed to renew a deal with Sky Sports to screen live domestic and international cricket in England and Wales.
The deal, thought to be worth £300m, begins after the Ashes series in 2009 and extends to 2013. At the same time, Five has agreed a highlights package to be screened during early evening. The deal means that no live cricket will be screened on terrestrial television.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke has called for a debate into the BBC’s policy for sports broadcasting rights. The ECB claims that in the UK 19 million people are interested in cricket and 3.5 million participate.
Clarke says that as they pay TV licences they should have the right to expect the public sector broadcasters to mount bids for the sport.
The BBC says it is “astonished” by the comments by the ECB. A spokesperson says: “We’ve always said any bid for live Test cricket was subject to value for money and fitting into scheduling and in our view neither of these criteria were met.”