Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1420 - 1430)

TUESDAY 13 DECEMBER 2005

Mr Richard Scudamore

  Q1420  Lord Peston: Is there also pay-per-view in Turkey?

  Mr Scudamore: Yes.

  Q1421  Chairman: We have more or less come to the end. Again, I will ask the question we asked our previous witness. I assume that you, irrespective of what the European Commission have done, want the minimum of interference in your freedom?

  Mr Scudamore: Only because I think we have acted quite responsibly. I think we have let more and more content into the market. We have managed it in such a way that we are not over-exposed and therefore attendances have held and attendances have grown some 67 per cent since we started, and we have created this virtuous circle that says, "Here is the best football competition in the world"; we use that interest, we generate the income and we distribute it. There is grass-roots investment. Five per cent of all our TV money goes into the Football Foundation. There is a whole virtuous circle that says you sell collectively, you generate the value through your intellectual property, you redistribute the money to keep the league very competitive by reinvesting it in stadia, by reinvesting it in the best playing talent in the world, you meet your corporate social responsibility requirements by redistributing money to grass roots and you keep this virtuous circle going. We have managed to do that without too much regulation and interference and in our view we should be allowed to continue.

  Q1422  Chairman: When you were doing the negotiation with the European Commission presumably you lobbied pretty fiercely, did you not?

  Mr Scudamore: We have always within the political circles, certainly at Westminster and Brussels, had huge support for the idea that we are intellectual property rights owners who should be allowed in a responsible way to sell our intellectual properties to the highest bidder, and ultimately that is the bit that wins you through.

  Q1423  Chairman: I am not sure if that was a yes or a no.

  Mr Scudamore: I would not say we lobby. We talk to a lot of people whom we find it very easy to get support from for this particular topic. Whether that is a heavy lobby—I do not particularly see that it is.

  Q1424  Chairman: Did you manage to get the Government to help you as well in putting your case?

  Mr Scudamore: I think the Government were very supportive, yes.

  Q1425  Chairman: So the Government were putting your case in Brussels?

  Mr Scudamore: I do not think they necessarily were directly putting our case. They were certainly very supportive of collective selling and very supportive of the way the Premier League redistributes its money for the benefit of grass roots in this country. Because of that I think they are very supportive and they are also very wary of the alternative, which is the Italian model or the Spanish model, which is individual selling, which only means that the richer clubs get richer and the poorer clubs get poorer.

  Q1426  Chairman: You said a number of times that what you foresee as the future is live games on pay TV and the highlights on free-to-air. Is that right?

  Mr Scudamore: No. I do not see the future as anything other than that the bidders that bid will win, and if that is free-to-air that is fine. If that is pay, that is fine. We are technology neutral now. If a broadband operator wishes to put it out into a controlled broadband environment, that is also fine.

  Q1427  Chairman: I must have misunderstood in that case. Did I not hear you say that you envisaged a position where the highlights would always be on free-to-air?

  Mr Scudamore: That is free-to-air highlights.

  Q1428  Chairman: Yes.

  Mr Scudamore: I think the difference between highlights and live—

  Q1429  Chairman: Yes, that is what I am talking about.

  Mr Scudamore: Because we are technology neutral, whether that is free-to-air, pay, broadband, we are completely neutral as to where those end up. I cannot envisage a position where we would not in any circumstances, no matter what happens to live, have free-to-air highlights.

  Chairman: That was the point I was getting at.

  Q1430  Lord Kalms: You described your organisation several times as a virtuous circle, which is quite an interesting comment. As a market economy man, would you mind if I suggested that it is also a golden circle that you have created? Virtuous and golden—it is a unique combination.

  Mr Scudamore: It is.

  Chairman: You have been very patient. Thank you very much indeed. There may be one or two other points that we would like to raise, so perhaps we could write to you on that. Thank you for your time.




 
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