Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1400
TUESDAY 13 DECEMBER 2005
Mr Richard Scudamore
Q1400 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
That was not quite what I was asking.
Mr Scudamore: In answer to an earlier question,
I cannot envisage where we will not have some sort of free-to-air
exposure of our football in a highlights form. Whether that is
the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five or any other free-to-air broadcaster,
I am not wedded to any particular broadcaster. As you have probably
gathered, we are more wedded to extracting the value of our intellectual
property than we are to any particular broadcaster.
Your concern is that there should be some competition?
Mr Scudamore: Yes.
Q1402 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
I have one question in response to your answer to the Chairman's
question about whether the BBC should bid more. You said it would
cost £2.7 million for 90 minutes. That is before production
Mr Scudamore: Yes, and they are not huge, as
you can probably imagine.
Q1403 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
There are a lot of people involved.
Mr Scudamore: Yes, but in the scheme of programming
costs they are not huge. These are all at the moment, shall we
say, last year's prices, of course. That is the current deal.
Who knows what the future competitive environment may hold?
Q1404 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
You talked earlier when you gave us a history of football about
1985 being an all-time low and it has built up since then and
the importance of Match of the Day. What effect do you
think the lack of premiership football on free-to-air platforms
has on the game? Are you concerned that there is a danger that
young people are not being drawn into the game in the way that
they were through the late eighties and nineties?
Mr Scudamore: No, because there was never very
much football live on television anyway. The maximum it ever got
to was 18 in the season. They did not schedule anything in August
and September. We always got the FA Cup, we always got the World
Cups and the European championships and people thought they were
watching Premier League football when they were not. With the
uptake now of pay television generally with the consistency that
Match of the Day has brought to that highlights environment
and the advent of the Sunday morning programme, the earlier programme
which has been re-engineered and re-edited for the audience and
includes a special section on community involvement with young
people and is edited with less analysis and more action, deliberately
aimed at the younger market, I think we are probably as well served
now as we have ever been, whether it be young people or any group.
For those who have not got access to satellite platforms, usually
everybody knows somebody who has and there is always for older
audiences the pub environment which is an extremely attractive
environment for a lot of young adults to watch football, so in
terms of access we are as good now as we have ever been.
Q1405 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
And you were saying earlier about the whole broadband capability.
Mr Scudamore: Yes, and that is all to come.
Q1406 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
Moving on to the question of listed events, what is your attitude
to the existence of listed events and do you think that it makes
it more difficult for the BBC to bid for premiership games because
they are not on the list?
Mr Scudamore: I would rather come at this the
other way. Clearly there is a place for listed events. They are
the iconic, more single match or condensed series of matches such
as the FA Cup, such as the World Cup, but 380 games, 10 of which
are played every weekend for nine months, do not lend themselves
in my view to anything like a listed event environment.
That is quite interesting. You do not actually contest the concept
of listed events?
Mr Scudamore: No, I do not contest the concept.
I contest the practicality of its applicability to something like
the competition that I run because it just would not work for
Can we just go back to Lord Peston's point about the European
Commission? We have now got this rather curious position where,
providing it goes through all the stages that you have said, no-one
is going to be allowed to buy all six packages but someone would
be allowed to buy five of the six, so there is this one sixth
thing. It does not sound to me on the face of it one of the world's
most attractive packages. What is your view on that?
Mr Scudamore: I will come at it the other way.
Nobody is guaranteed to buy anything. The whole point is, now
that those rights are in six packages, now those rights have a
balance, we have guaranteed what we call the top five club matches.
Other people want to call them top quality matches (and, of course,
we have quality matches at all our matches). Anybody involved
in the top five clubs, those matches will be spread throughout
the packages. Everybody is concentrating on this five/one concept
but that is rather a negative construct. The fact is that anybody
can step up to the plate and buy one package, two packages, three
packages, four packages, and I think it is certainly not a foregone
conclusion that we will end up in a five/one environment. If the
market is prepared to step up to the plate and take part I think
we have got a very good chance of a very vague outcome, sitting
So you could have a three/three, for example?
Mr Scudamore: Yes, easily.
Who, apart from BSkyB and the BBC, would be in the bidding?
Mr Scudamore: Again, in the nature of things
it is anybody and everybody; all UK broadcasters. I am sure there
will be some foreign broadcast interest. We would not rule out,
subject to them having some definitive plans by the right time,
venture capital interests. It is impossible to say, sitting here.
We will, as we always do, advertise in the correct trade press
and some time in the new year we will go to market. The ITT will
be issued to everybody that shows an interest and we will hopefully
have interest from everybody.
So, rather than being a defeat, it sounds as though it is a plus
Mr Scudamore: But that is how we have always
done it. There are some differences now, there are some technical
differences; we are being forced to sell at least one package
to somebody else but, as I say, that is the agreement we made
with the Commission in December 2003.
So we have taken two years, have we, to get to the final bit?
Mr Scudamore: To get to the definition around
what a balanced package is and what that would look like in qualitative
Q1413 Lord Kalms:
You said a foreign broadcaster might buy it. Do you think a foreign
broadcaster might buy it and then try and sell it back to a UK
broadcaster or that they would broadcast into the UK or what?
Mr Scudamore: No. I should have said owners
of foreign broadcast channels. Clearly, there are other people
who have ownership interests in channels that are distributed
in UK television.
Q1414 Lord Kalms:
For the UK?
Mr Scudamore: If you were to run yourself down
the EPG currently on your satellite system or on your cable system
you would see a whole lot of channels that are not owned by UK
broadcasters, sports channels included.
I think Sky have said, have they not, that they would be happy
to pay the same amount as they currently do for five packages,
so it sounds as if you have come out of this rather well?
Mr Scudamore: Do not believe everything you
read in the press but my recollection was that they would be prepared
to pay the same amount as they pay for the current level of exclusivity,
which is a different point.
Q1416 Lord Peston:
Your model is that you are Premier league and you have a package
and it is bid for. Is there also La Liga and Serie A? Is their
stuff also always pay-per-view?
Mr Scudamore: That is entirely different. Serie
have a club rights model where the government passed a law that
said that said collective selling was not legal, and the individual
clubs sell there which clearly leads to a huge disparity in incomes
between the top club, Juventus, and the smallest clubs. There
is a ratio of something like 17 or 18 to one in terms of television
Q1417 Lord Peston:
Just to interrupt you on that one, when I watch Inter against
Milan on Bravo, Bravo would have bought that from either Inter
or Milan in order to show it to me?
Mr Scudamore: Yes, that is quite difficult because
that is the international distribution. It depends on which matches
have been put into that package. A group of clubs have got together
and pooled their rights for the purposes of selling them internationally.
In Italy they have sold them individually.
Q1418 Lord Peston:
So if were an Italian I would have to
Mr Scudamore: You would have to buy the matches;
you can buy them individually because clubs sell them individually.
Q1419 Lord Peston:
I was asking you about La Liga. Is that yet another?
Mr Scudamore: La Liga again is individual but
when I last checked, which was a couple of weeks ago, Sogecable
have bought every single club's individual rights, so they have
got themselves back to a collective position, having bought them