Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1340
TUESDAY 13 DECEMBER 2005
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.
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.
You want to be the person in the driving seat making decisions
Mr McCafferty: Yes.
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.