Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240
WEDNESDAY 9 NOVEMBER 2005
Mr Roger Mosey and Mr Dominic Coles
Do you think that if cricket goes on to pay TV it is going to
have an impact on new young people taking up the game seriously
if they do not have access to it?
Mr Mosey: I think that is a worry. The worry
is that cricket as a sport is effectively going to be exclusively
live on pay TV, so there will be no cricket available live on
terrestrial TV at all. The mix you have got in football at the
moment we think is rather appealing for viewers and everyone else.
Sky have live Premier League games, we have Match of the Day,
we share the FA Cup with Sky, Sky share the Champions League with
ITV, so there is a diversity of supply and you have got big terrestrial
audiences coming to the BBC for major live FA Cup games. The worry
with cricket is that it is absolutely the case that audiences
will go down next year because of the pay TV dimension. I do not
know, I think the jury is out. We cite and believe there is a
pretty interesting precedent in rugby because at one point England
rugby was exclusively on pay TV and it went to much smaller audiences.
It was interesting that the rugby authorities wanted to come back
for the Six Nations and to have all the Six Nations' matches on
You cannot divide up cricket in the same way as you divide up
the Premier League, Match of the Day and highlights of
Mr Mosey: We have a number of options.
Mr Coles: We look long and hard at this. My
team and I had 15 meetings with the ECB when the rights were first
being tendered to try and explore a way in which, in the crowded
way that the BBC operates, to fit cricket in there. The schedules
which were produced overlap with World Cup football, with Wimbledon,
with Open Golf, with a whole number of contractual obligations
which we took on way back in 1999 and subsequently to fill the
holes left by cricket. What we tried to work out with the ECB
was whether or not a more flexible approach to the way in which
they sold and packaged their rights would actually deliver us
the opportunity to take an odd Test match here and there, maybe
even a session here when another session went on under Sky, or
allow Sky to show everything and we can dip in and out when it
suited our schedules, so at least you could still get some visibility
for the licence fee payer. At the time we had some very fruitful
discussions with them and it may be something to look at for the
future. At the time I do not think the ECB anticipated that they
would be losing Channel 4 as a terrestrial broadcaster. If we
were having those discussions today with Channel 4 out of the
picture then I think those discussions could go somewhere. That
is why I am encouraged, particularly with our strive to get into
digital technology and digital ways of distributing content, that
when we sit down with them again to talk about the future we may
be in a situation where we can deliver something.
But nothing can happen before 2009.
Mr Coles: A commercial contract has been signed.
I cannot see that going back.
We seem to have your pledge that you are going to be fighting
it quite hard when it comes to that.
Mr Coles: We will. We have an obligation to
licence fee payers for all significant sports rights, to look
at them and to try and secure some of that action for the BBC.
Q244 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
You have given instances of the various occasions that you have
bid for and achieved. How do you define what is a crucial or a
major sporting event? What are your tests for arriving at that
Mr Mosey: Some of it is simply numerical. We
know that the Olympic Games and the World Cup will get big audiences.
If you take Wimbledon, the importance of Wimbledon as a cultural
phenomenon as well as a sporting phenomenon to the UK is obvious
and Wimbledon has been the premier tennis tournament in the world,
it is something that the BBC would want to deliver to terrestrial
audiences. We are undertaking a major piece of work at the moment
as part of a programme strategy review at the BBC which is assessing
which sports we think are developing and which sports maybe need
a bit of refreshment so that we can provide a portfolio which
is balanced and balances major events and some minority sports
as best we can.
Q245 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
In terms of developing sport, how crucial in coming to your conclusions
is the fact that the younger generation may not be interested
in sport at the moment? Sport generally is now coming back on
to the agenda. It is now even popular to encourage schools to
play sport when at one stage it was not at all, it was too competitive
and so on. Your role there as a public service broadcaster is
in actually engaging with young people as well as those who are
already into various games. How crucial is that in your definition
Mr Coles: It is absolutely critical. We do feel
we have an obligation to showcase not just the biggest, grandest
events but also the more minority public service sports which
are struggling to get visibility in an increasingly polarised
sports marketplace. What I have found in the last five years is
that the funding that is available from broadcasters and from
other investors in sport is increasingly focusing on the big events
and that is primarily about football but also the big rugby events
and the cricket events. There is a polarisation going on at the
moment. A lot of sports are going to be left behind. I feel the
BBC has a responsibility, through the Olympics coverage, through
the Commonwealth Games coverage, through the Grandstand
coverage, to continue to serve those sports as well. However,
that is within the constraints of where we operate and within
the two linear channels in which we operate where clearly they
are multi-genre channels and we have to compete for the air space
against current affairs, religion, drama and comedy. We cannot
have it all, but we certainly do like to punch our weight in to
ensure that we are delivering to those sports as well as to the
Q246 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
How important will the new technical development be in selling
sport? I am thinking of high definition television and so on because
that could be quite crucial in the cost aspects of what you are
doing. You have described the method of how you are bidding and
getting into the marketplace and so on. Could you give us some
idea of just how the pattern might change year-on-year and what
the actual spend is? In one year you might be bottom of the league
with all the other competing pressures.
Mr Coles: The advantage of running a five-year
rolling budget is that it allows us, almost uniquely in the BBC,
to plan ahead by up to five years or even further in respect of
the World Cup in 2014, for example, which is a great advantage
to have. It means that we can take on contractual commitments
which give us certainty. In terms of building the blocks that
deliver the overall BBC portfolio and delivers to the licence
fee, we can build those with quite a lot of certainty and security.
Q247 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Let us say we were looking at a graph. How would it look?
Mr Coles: Crudely, in terms of our spend, in
the even years when you have the Olympics, you have the World
Cups and you have the European Championship football you spend
a lot more than you do in the odd years when you do not have those
major events because clearly the major events cost a lot more
money and commit a lot more resource to those summer big moments.
Can you put some figures on it?
Mr Coles: It adds around £80 to £100
million a year in terms of the step up in a major event year.
When you have got the Olympics and the World Cup that is going
to significantly increase your spend across sport.
What would the average be?
Mr Coles: You are going up from between £250
and £300 million to £350 to £400 million.
Mr Coles: Yes. So you are looking at going up
by 25 per cent in a major events year and then coming down by
25 per cent when you fall out of that into an odd year. In terms
of a graph of where the BBC spend has gone, certainly since I
have been in BBC Sport and certainly during Greg Dyke's time as
Director General, he recognised that we were struggling at the
time to compete for major sport and he invested a lot more money
into sport than traditionally had been invested and that has been
sustained, so we have been funded quite well.
Q251 Bishop of Manchester:
The Governors recently endorsed the plan for the removal of your
department up North. I am not here to promote or demote the significance
of that for the City of Manchester and the City of Salford. What
I would like to explore is the significance of that for your department.
Were you properly consulted? From your point of view what are
the pros and cons? In the end will it produce an even better department?
It seems to me quite a crucial time in the history of the broadcasting
of sport in this country to be making what clearly will be quite
a major physical move at any rate.
Mr Mosey: I should say that I come from Bradford
and so it is moving to the wrong side of the Pennines. I think
it is vitally important that the BBC spends its money around the
UK and invests in the creative industries around the UK. I have
no doubt at all the BBC should be in significant mass in centres
outside London. I personally think that Manchester gives us a
chance to revise some of the ways we work, to have a new creative
environment and also to support local industries and local creativity
in the North West and across the North generally.
Q252 Bishop of Manchester:
So some of the rumours that one has picked up from within the
BBC and particularly within the department that this is disastrous
news is not shared by you?
Mr Mosey: No. There are mixed feelings about
moving to Manchester. Clearly people have homes and families and
social networks in London and therefore it is a significant move
for people to think about going 200 miles north, I absolutely
accept that. I think you have to ask the question the other way
round, which is should the BBC spend so much as a proportion of
its money in London forever? I think you have to make significant
commitments to the regions of the UK.
Q253 Lord King of Bridgwater:
How many people is it?
Mr Mosey: It is a total of between 1,500 and
Mr Coles: Five hundred will be BBC Sport.
Q254 Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen:
How are you dealing with this in people terms? You have said it
is a major thing for someone to be asked to move somewhere else.
Are you offering packages?
Mr Mosey: First of all, on the timescale, we
will not make a final decision about Manchester until after we
know about the licence fee settlement, so that will probably be
some time in April or May of next year. The plan is that we move
to Manchester in 2010, so we will have a four-year transition
for our staff in which we will ask whether they do or do not want
to move to Manchester, offering relocation packages if they do
want to move and if they do not want to move there will be deals
available to them or relocation within the rest of the BBC.
Why is it going to cost more or is sport not going to cost more
in Manchester because the whole move looks as though it is going
to cost more year-on-year-on-year? I do not understand why that
should be the case.
Mr Mosey: These are issues you may want to pick
up when you talk to the Director General and the Chairman. I think
you have to make an investment in the regions in order to deliver
a building that is fit for purpose. We should not under-estimate
the fact that any building that has got to have a significant
broadcasting infrastructure is quite expensive and actually, if
we are dealing properly with people, some of the relocation costs
are also significant. I think there is a net spend in the first
years of the Manchester project with savings further down the
Do you envisage savings further down the line? After what period?
Mr Mosey: Over a 25-year period.
Chairman: That is ambitious!
Q257 Bishop of Manchester:
What about the opportunities that a hub presents? Do you see that
there will be values to be gained from being alongside ITV and
other independent producers or will that not affect the sports
Mr Mosey: I think it is important that the BBC
is part of a community. We would hope that independent producers
might consider moving to Manchester and that there might be a
media village. We have discussed, for instance if we have a big
studio, whether the big studio might be available for other forms
of arts and recreation. Also, I like the idea that we should have
a degree of public access and public visibility. As you will know
if you have seen the open centres we have in Hull and in Blackburn,
getting the public involved in broadcasting is an absolutely fundamental
role that the BBC should do.
Q258 Lord Holme of Cheltenham:
I would like to ask about listed events. As I understand it the
purpose of listing is to give you and other terrestrial broadcastersor
is it other public service broadcasters or is it other analogue
broadcastersa first crack and a protected zone which one
could well argue is in the interests of the licence payer and
the viewer. Is that going to survive into the digital age which
we have heard so much about? Is that system going to work? How
will it work?
Mr Mosey: I think there is some misapprehension
about the switch-off of analogue and the effect on listed events.
I see it essentially as free-to-air versus pay TV. BBC One in
a digital era will still be available to 100 per cent of the population.
Subscription television services obviously put a significant barrier
for people on low incomes or people who are casual viewers. I
think it is £408 a year for the most basic subscription package
that includes sports channels. There are people who cannot afford
to pay that on top of the licence fee. The second thing, of course,
is there are sports events that bring in casual viewers. You may
not want to watch of the whole of the Ashes series but you may
want to come in for the final day of the Fourth Test and the climatic
Fifth Test and that is really a dilemma for people, about whether
they have to pay to buy a whole year of sports broadcasting when
really a terrestrial broadcaster or a free-to-air broadcaster
can bring them in for those major sporting moments.
Q259 Lord Holme of Cheltenham:
Do you think more events should be listed?
Mr Mosey: I think in a way this is a debate
for within the industry and we are keen to take part in that debate.
My personal view is that I think it is odd that no cricket at
all is listed. If you look at the DCMS letter in 1998/99, there
was an assumption that cricket would still be available in some
form on terrestrial television. The fact that no cricket is available
is an interesting question for debate going forward about should
some cricket be listed.