Letter from the England and Wales Cricket
The England and Wales Cricket Board Limited
(ECB) is the governing body for the sport of cricket in England
and Wales. Our remit is to develop and nurture cricket from the
Playground to Test arena. The ECB recently published Building
Partnerships, cricket's strategic plan for 2005-09. A full copy
of the strategy and more information on our business is available
Broadcasting revenue and the quality of coverage
is extremely important to cricket. It delivers the majority of
the income that we then reinvest in the game and is also the primary
means by which cricket fans across the country can follow our
Few sports are as reliant on broadcasting as
cricket in this country which derives 80 per cent of its income
from our broadcasting contracts and this source of revenue funds
the majority of our grass roots and England Teams (Mens, Womens,
Youth and Disabilities) programmes. For example broadcasting income
is more than 10 times the sum we receive from Lottery and Public
Sector support, more than 10 times the figure we receive from
sponsorship income and 20 times the income we receive from the
surplus on staging major matches. In 2004 our spend on community/recreational
cricket was £10.634 million. Our UK domestic broadcasting
income was £47.4 million and overseas TV licence revenues
were $2.7 million.
As a percentage of UK Broadcasting income our
investment in grass roots cricket is 22.4 per cent. This is extremely
high as compared with other major sports and more than four times
the 5 per cent target set at the time of de-listing.
Being the lifeblood of the game's financial
health, broadcasting income also provides the funds necessary
for ECB to invest in programmes, facilities and initiatives designed
to safeguard the future of the game in England and Wales. The
following is a snapshot of the benefits we hope our investment
will bring by 2009:
Our England teams (Men, Women and
Disability) to be ranked in the top two places in the world in
Test cricket and the World Cup.
7,500 coaches and 85,000 volunteers
registered nationwide to help teach the game to a new generation.
A Cricket Centre of Excellence within
30 miles of 85 per cent of the population.
An expansion in the number of ECB
recreational focus clubs from 165 to 1,000.
20,000 school and club coaching sessions,
delivered by working alongside the Cricket Foundation and the
Lord's Taverners to reintroduce competitive cricket into state
schools and forge strong links between schools and local clubs.
£5 million of ECB interest-free
loans to clubs for investment in the development of the game.
The ECB owns the media and broadcast rights
around the following domestic competitions and events:
International Test Match Cricket
(7 x 5 day matches per year) all featuring England against a touring
International One Day Matches (10
x 1 day matches) all featuring England against a touring nation.
International Twenty20 (a maximum
of 4 x Twenty20 matches featuring England and both touring nations).
Womens International ODI and Test
England Under 19 Test and ODI cricket.
Liverpool Victoria County Championship
(144 x 4 day matches played in two divisions featuring the 18
First Class Counties).
The C&G Trophy (73 x 50 over
matches played in two conferences (North and South) featuring
the 18 First Class Counties, Ireland and Scotland culminating
in a final to be played at Lord's between the highest placed team
in both divisions).
The Twenty20 Cup (79 x 20 over matches
to be played by the First Class Counties split into three regional
conferences of 6 teams. Quarter finals, semi finals and a final.)
The group stages of these matches are played in a three week window
The 40 Over League (73 x 40 over
matches played by the First Class Counties split into two performance
The BBC's radio coverage of cricket is rightly
famous the world over, with Test Match Special recognised for
its dedicated, thoughtful and entertaining broadcasting of cricket.
BBC radio also streams audio coverage worldwide by agreement with
ECB. Our radio rights with the BBC are in place until 2009.
Sky television has secured the exclusive rights
to live television coverage of the ECB's properties, including
the Test Matches, from 2006 to 2009. This has created a great
deal of interest. The Committee might like to note the following:
Neither the BBC nor ITV bid for any
of ECB's television rights in the period 2006-09 despite the rights
being divided into 27 different packages, specifically to make
the process accessible to all broadcasters.
There was no interest from terrestrial
channels to televise overseas cricket tours, One Day Internationals
, Womens Test Matches or ODIs , Under 19 Tests nor Domestic cricket.
Channel 4 bid for a selected few
Test matches, at a price that would have meant a reduction in
cricket's income (in comparison to 2005) of £80 million over
A key component of the new arrangements
is the package we have agreed with Five which will broadcast highlights
of all major matches (except floodlit matches which will still
be in progress) on terrestrial television between 7.15 pm and
8 pm. This is the time when most children, families and working
parents can view cricket.
The rights were awarded following
extensive consultation with Ofcom and DCMS, who both gave their
full approval to the process and outcome.
The ECB is delighted to continue and extend
our relationship with BSkyB who have consistently demonstrated
excellence in their coverage. BSkyB has shown a real commitment
to cricket through the 16 year relationship with the governing
body for the game. It was Sky who first introduced coverage of
overseas Test Matches in 1989-90 and it is Sky who currently make
available Test and One Day International cricket from around the
world. Sky regularly cover Womens International cricket , domestic
competitions and Under 19 matches. Were it not for Sky's commitment
to global cricket, there is little question that cricket fans
would not be able to enjoy this range of cricket on TV.
The ECB wishes to see a vibrant broadcasting
market with many channels interested in showing cricket. We hope
that the success in the Ashes and national interest this has created
will increase interest in our future rights; indeed this surge
of interest in cricket following the England men's and women's
team success can be put down to the level of investment which
ECB has dedicated to identifying and nurturing talent.
During the past five years cricket has invested
in a National Academy and County Academies which have been fundamental
to the success of the England Team. Without broadcasting revenue
this investment would not have been possible. Any significant
reduction in this revenue would put the main driver of interest
in any sport, namely a successful national team, at serious risk.
ECB has already offered to meet with a range
of broadcasters to pro-actively ensure that schedules and new
opportunities can be identified to maximise the number of broadcasters
who will express an interest in televising and transmitting cricket
It has recently been announced that the BBC
has agreed the rights to screen highlights of the Cricket World
Cup in 2007. We are delighted that cricket is returning to the
BBC in this way and that there will be highlights of England's
attempt to win this prestigous tournament.
Sport is an issue of immense national importancenot
just in terms of its contribution to the keeping the nation healthier
and reducing crime but more fundamentally because it instills
a set of core values especially amongst our young people and can
The ECB would like to suggest that as part of
the Charter Review the BBC is given an enhanced responsibility,
and generates a new opportunity, to support the coverage and development
of sport across the country.
ECB understands the very specific challenges
that cricket poses to terrestrial broadcasters in terms of the
longevity of some of its formats and the associated scheduling
issues it carries with it.
The establishment of a dedicated BBC sports
channel would create a platform that would mean not only more
space available to schedule top-level sport, but also create capacity
for the broadcasting of minor and developing sports, such as junior
and women's cricket. It would also allow the broadcast of coaching
and training programs plus other initiatives which BBC now successfully
publishes online at www.bbc.co.uk.
The BBC has a long and proud history in covering
sport. Recent statements expressing renewed interest in televising
cricket are greatly welcomed by the ECB and cricket supporters.
ECB further welcomes the statement that the BBC will be seeking
to acquire rights at a fair market value. This policy is both
enlightened and would not only protect the core revenue for the
game of cricket but would also provide an opportunity for terrestrial
television to transmit live matches of Domestic and International
4 November 2005