Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1340 - 1345)


Mr Mark McCafferty

  Q1340  Lord Maxton: I know what you mean. The SRU are now doing that. In fact, the only way you can watch club rugby in Scotland is on the SRU web site. It is not very good, it is pretty limited, but if you have an interest you watch it, but you are not doing that?

  Mr McCafferty: We are not doing that currently, no. In that case, apart from the window that I mentioned of exclusivity in terms of delayed coverage but reasonably live as it were, that is more a function of us just learning how to exploit that market and what the level of interest might be in that market, but personally I think it is a great opportunity for the future, I really do. I come from most immediately two industries in the form of travel and I also sit on the board of HMV Group which is involved in digital downloading of music, et cetera, and I have seen businesses that can embrace the changes in the distribution channels and I think live sport has to be one that opens its mind to that.

  Q1341  Lord Maxton: How would a club sell except by some form of encryption which allows those who pay for it to watch it to sell their own rights, which presumably will happen eventually?

  Mr McCafferty: It is one of the business models that could work. You mean how will it technically work?

  Q1342  Lord Maxton: Not so much technically; how will it make money out of it?

  Mr McCafferty: Like everything else, it needs to have a sufficient number of customers willing to pay a sufficient amount of money to avail themselves of that service, and that is classically the thing in this area that we have to learn as a business and as a sport. We do work, for instance, with O2, one of our sponsors, on what is called an active service where people can subscribe to delayed highlights of tries and so forth on their mobile phones. That is very much in its infancy but we have to find how big that market is going to be and what price point people are willing to pay to do that.

  Lord Maxton: It will be interesting whether the House of Lords are prepared to do that with their now phones.

  Q1343  Chairman: You have been very patient, Mr McCafferty, thank you very much. Can I just ask one last question. I do not want to put words in your mouth but I assume that you are content with the present position where there are no controls on Premier Rugby in who you sell your television rights to? You want a free-market position?

  Mr McCafferty: Yes we do and I should be clear, obviously the remit is to talk about the BBC, and aside from any monetary issues Sky have worked extremely well with us in this period in promoting the game and we would want the freedom and we would want to strike the right balance between satellite and free to air at any point in the sport's development. We think we have that broadly at the moment. It may change in three or four years' time.

  Q1344  Chairman: You want to be the person in the driving seat making decisions on it?

  Mr McCafferty: Yes.

  Q1345  Chairman: Without any outside interference?

  Mr McCafferty: I think our obligation and our mandate from our clubs is to generate returns and promote the game. We think we do a pretty good job for them and they will always hold us to account if we are not doing a good enough job for them. I think at this stage from the position we are in it is a good looking profile that we have got over the next few years.

  Chairman: The Committee will obviously have to decide whether that is right or wrong, but I think we have got your views absolutely straight. Thank you very much. If there are any other points we have perhaps we can come back to you in writing. Thank you very much.

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