Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1560
TUESDAY 20 DECEMBER 2005
Mr David Morgan and Mr David Collier
And throughout this process you kept in contact with the Commission?
Mr Collier: There was legal advice taken all
the way through the process.
Chairman: Thank you very much. Baroness
Q1561 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
I really do find it extremely difficult to understand exactly
what happened. I think we all do; perhaps you do. I wondered whether
subsequently anything had come to your notice which might have
helped explain why there was this sudden lack of bidding?
Mr Collier: I think the DCMS Select Committee
was most helpful and most constructive. It outlined the fact that
certainly for Channel Four there were a number of serious financial
constraints in terms of the bidding process. I think Channel Four
openly stated a significant amount of money that they had lost
on cricket from the last rights package. Certainly in terms of
the BBC the scheduling issue was a significant issue. That came
out very early on, that the scheduling issue was always going
to be their major constraint. That, if you like, was two significant
broadcasters and it gave them significant problems with bidding
competitively for several of the packages. Cricket has obtained
no more money from this deal than it is currently obtaining, so
it is not additional or incremental revenue for cricket.
Lord King of Bridgwater: Just a couple
of quick points. First of all, I ought to declare that Giles Clarke
is my nephew and he was one of the two negotiators on this. I
have declared that interest in the Committee. I am also the occasional
captain of the House of Lords' cricket team and a participant
in the field.
Chairman: Is that televised?
Q1562 Lord King of Bridgwater:
And I am not a Sky subscriber, and I have already made my views
known to Giles Clarke. First of all, the 27 packages that have
been talked about, are those confidential or have they been made
available? Could we see them?
Mr Collier: I see no reason at all why we should
not release those and I would be very happy to send those on to
Q1563 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Can I ask you if exclusivity was ever one of the original packages?
I got the impression from the Commons evidence that it became
evident to Sky during the bidding process that they might be able
to get exclusivity as though it had not been one of the original
packages; is that right?
Mr Collier: There was no total exclusivity in
the original packages. One of the packages was for all seven Test
matches so that was one area that people could bid for, but then
the one day internationals, the ODIs as we call them, were separated
from that, as was domestic cricket, as was the Twenty20 competition,
so they were all separate packages and then there were subsets
of those packages.
Q1564 Lord Kalms:
One question that keeps coming up is you are very sympathetic
to the BBC because of what you are saying are scheduling problems.
When you negotiate, one of the first things you do is not worry
about the other side, you just worry about the product you are
selling. All of sudden scheduling is a big problem. Scheduling
is always a problem to the BBC. Why are you so sympathetic to
it because when they want to introduce a sports programme they
find time. They always have time for Royal Ascot, they fill as
much time as they want with snooker but all of a sudden they are
saying, "Cricket? No, scheduling problems," and you
roll over and say, "Yes, we understand your problem."
They did not make one single effort to take cricket into their
programmes. Is that a correct analysis?
Mr Collier: Where we are sympathetic is to the
fact that the BBC had contractual commitments to other sports.
In the same way we as the ECB when we negotiate rights we do like
to see within our agreement the maximum amount of coverage per
day because the last thing we want is for cricket to be switched
on and off every half an hour during the day of a Test match.
That clearly is something our viewers do not enjoy. Once the BBC
have entered into a contractual commitment, let's say, with Wimbledon
or with the FA Cup Final or with Royal Ascot, they have a commitment
to a certain amount of coverage on those days. That clearly creates
a scheduling issue and we have to recognise that. That is why
it is important that we prepare for the next round of bids very
early, we discuss with all the broadcasters (not just the BBC)
what they might or might not be interested in, so we are trying
to mix and match their schedules and opportunities because we
believe that is in the best interests of ECB as well to create
the most competitive market place.
The next round of bids is not until 2009.
Mr Collier: Correct, but if you think that a
lot of these contracts will be entered into in probably 2007,
so some of the contracts that broadcasters have with other sports
or other events expire in 2006 or 2007 and that is where we need
Mr Morgan, I am sorry I interrupted you.
Mr Morgan: Just going back to Lord Kalms' question,
it was not our intention to be sympathetic, we simply recognised
that they did have a scheduling problem and our assumption was
that they had believed that Channel Four and Sky would be both
bidding again and I think they took a business decision (they
being the BBC) to procure other sports for the period of this
deal. Now, next time round they have made it very clear to us
that they will be extremely interested in coming to the table
at the bid.
You obviously have this unusual if not unique problem that the
weather might get in the way and you have a six-hour slot that
has not been filled with anything. It is all very well playing
last year's Test matches but they begin to pall after a bit.
Mr Morgan: Indeed.
Mr Collier: There are nearly 300 hours in an
English summer of international cricket. That is quite a lot of
Q1568 Lord Peston:
It has just dawned on me, and I will get you to clarify following
what the Lord Chairman has said, that you sell the rights to show
the cricket but there is no obligation to show it, is there? Supposing
Sky were to decide that one of the touring sides was so tedious
and the audience was so low that they really could not fill Sky
Sports One or Two (I think it was One yesterday, I cannot remember,
whatever I was watching) and they might say "We have bought
it but we are better off now not exercising the right." Are
they obliged once they have bought the package to show it no matter
how awful it is?
Mr Collier: Certainly I can answer that in terms
of BSkyB; they guarantee continuous coverage of the Test match.
Likewise, going forward with the Channel 5 highlights we were
very anxious that they were on at peak viewing time7.15
to 8 o'clockand that that was a guaranteed slot at a guaranteed
time. Wherever possible we would seek to obtain the maximum amount
of coverage within the contract. Clearly with Channel Four there
were times when Channel Four had to switch to a racing programme
during the last contract so we were not guaranteed totally extensive
coverage of all the Test matches.
Q1569 Lord Peston:
Under the current deal you are absolutely guaranteed the coverage?
Mr Morgan: Chairman, they have bid against a
schedule of matches against a four-year period so they know which
tourists are coming essentially.
Q1570 Lord Peston:
Therefore they do take some risks, do they not, because interest
in cricket might conceivably have a fleeting character that might
well go as well as stay. Yesterday's match was fascinating how
England managed to guarantee to lose it, then looked as if they
were going to win it, and then they decided "we have really
made up our mind to lose it". It was fascinating yesterday;
it is not always quite as fascinating as that, is it?
Mr Collier: I certainly think there are some
unique challenges but also some great rewards. We think cricket
provides exceptionally good value for the amount of money paid
for those rights comparative to other sports.
Q1571 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Reference has already been made by the Chairman to the paper you
produced. At this point you say your relations with the BBC have
been good in the past, you have a long and proud history, and
that you welcome the statement they have made looking forward.
I think Michael Grade is on the record (he was not the Chairman
then like you were not the Chief Executive then either) as saying
that they were sorry they did not do more then.
Mr Collier: Yes.
Q1572 Lord King of Bridgwater:
You were asked in the Commons' Select Committee whether the game
was all over in this respect or whether the Irish analogy where
Sky were called into a meeting with the Taoiseach and persuaded
to allow some more terrestrial coverage of the Irish World Cup
football. You gave an ambivalent answer, if I may say so, on that,
I thought. Is there a possibility of further discussions in view
of the public reaction to the existence of the Sky exclusivity?
Mr Collier: In the DCMS Select Committee I think
it was most helpful in his summation at the end that the Minister
for Sport made that commitment that if parties were interested
he would seek to bring them together. Clearly it would be up to
the broadcasters themselves if the broadcasters were interestedand
there have been some statements since then that some broadcasters
have stated that their position has not changed.
Q1573 Lord King of Bridgwater:
They have said their position has not changed?
Mr Collier: That is right. There was some comment
resulting from that select committee that the position had not
Q1574 Lord King of Bridgwater:
If you were invited by Mr Caborn would you be able to go into
it in a constructive frame of mind?
Mr Collier: The ECB would be willing to attend
any meeting with the Minister. Certainly the Minister has been
most helpful in seeking all options. That said, we do have some
contractual commitments, but clearly again I think BSkyB and Vic
Wakeling made a similar commitment in his Commons testimony to
say that he would be willing to attend such a meeting as well.
It would be very unusual, would it not, for BSkyB who have entered
into an exclusive contract with you, they might have made a commitment
to go to a meeting but I would not put too much money on them
coming out with a change of policy, or would you?
Mr Collier: I think that is something that broadcasters
themselves would have to answer. It is very difficult for me to
speculate on what BSkyB would say. They do have a contract with
What about you? You are not going to change your policy presumably
Mr Collier: We always look for the best deal
for the sport of cricket and I think what we have done is achieved
the best deal for the sport of cricket. We do believe we have
safeguarded the income stream for the game. We do believe that
it was the right package from the options that we were given at
the time. Clearly if new options come on to the table that were
of similar values then we would always look at other options,
but I think it is very unlikely.
Q1577 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Mr Caborn has not pressed the issue.
Mr Collier: I certainly think the Minister has
followed through but there has not been a meeting called at this
Q1578 Lord Kalms:
You mentioned before that the BBC are bidding for the rights for
the West Indies. They are going to bid?
Mr Collier: No, they have bid and they have
won the rights for the Cricket World Cup for the highlights in
Q1579 Lord Kalms:
Did Sky bid for that?
Mr Collier: Sky will be televising the World