Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1620
TUESDAY 20 DECEMBER 2005
Mr David Morgan and Mr David Collier
Q1620 Lord Kalms:
I just want to take up a note in your letter where you say, "ECB
further welcomes the statement that the BBC will be seeking to
acquire rights at a fair market value". They have indicated
to you that that is their attitude but a fair market value is
miles outside their resources, is it not, so why are you encouraged
by a statement which is rather hard for them to realise?
Mr Morgan: We would question the belief that
it is way outside their resources. We believe that cricket is
good value for money in terms of televising.
Q1621 Lord Kalms:
Yes, but anybody who has a product must think that they should
not be in the selling business. In the real world the price that
a product has gone for is normally, within the terms of the BBC,
well outside their possibility, ignoring the scheduling, just
talking about pounds.
Mr Collier: I do not think that is the case.
Certainly, in terms of other programming it would be a lot less
expensive than a number of other programmes.
Q1622 Lord Kalms:
Mr Collier: Things like a highlights package
would not have been anywhere near outside the parameters of a
commercial deal for the BBC. I am sure that they will be looking
at that very hard in the future.
Q1623 Lord Kalms:
Do you think it is realistic for them to pay a fair market value
when they have hovering over them BSkyB which can always outbid
them if they choose to?
Mr Collier: I think it is a question of priorities
for the BBC. I do not believe that it is outwith the remit of
the BBC to be able to afford the rights for cricket comparative
to other programmes and other rights that have been acquired.
It may not be the case but live cricket is getting outside their
Mr Collier: Yes.
Do you think that is right?
Mr Collier: As I say, Chairman, it is still
within the budget, provided that it is seen as a number one priority.
I do not think that the sum of £55 million a year in terms
of what is paid for the totality of cricket comparative to the
total BBC budget is exceptional.
Q1626 Lord Kalms:
Do you know how much the BBC budget is for sports rights?
Mr Collier: It is a multiple of five or six
But highlights they could easily afford?
Mr Collier: Easily.
Would you regard that as the ideal solution?
Mr Collier: I think the ideal solution is that
the BBC bid for all aspects of cricket, not just highlights.
Mr Morgan: I think this takes us back to why
there is a large number of packages. The large number of packages
existed in order to give free-to-air broadcasters the opportunity
to bid for what they could afford.
Chairman: I see that. We have certainly
distinguished three or four. I am fascinated to see this list
and how you get up to 27, but doubtless we can see that when you
put that in.
Q1629 Lord King of Bridgwater:
You mentioned you were not here when this process was going on.
Neither was Mr Mosey, who came and appeared before us, although
Mr Coles was, who was the financial man. When is the next bidding
round going to start because it seems to me that there are quite
a lot of lessons to be learned on both sides. Are you having discussions
with them about the next bidding round?
Mr Collier: We are certainly having discussions
with all broadcasters, not just the BBC. I would see the next
bidding round commencing in earnest around 2007. There has to
be at least a two-year lead period because otherwise other contracts
for rights do get added into it and we are back to this schedule
issue that we talked about earlier. Just to clarify, I was a director
of the board last year, so obviously I did have knowledge of what
was going on, as I think I said to the DCMS committee.
Q1630 Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve:
Who determines what is in the 27 packages?
Mr Collier: That was a matter for discussion.
This is why we had all these different meetings with different
broadcasters, to try to determine what would be the best sub-division
packages to be able to allow people to choose and to bid. That
was why, even when we created the 27 packages, we determined that
people should be able to bid for all or part of those packages
themselves. In fact, some mathematician somewhere worked out how
many different combinations (and it was many million) that people
could bid for if they so wished.
Q1631 Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve:
Did it therefore follow that there was no exclusivity in any of
the 27 packages since any combination was possible?
Mr Collier: That is right. If you look at the
list of 27 packages, which we will send to you, there was no total
exclusivity. One of the packages would have said, "Here is
a package for the seven Test matches" that we hold, but it
would not then have included the One Day Internationals and they
could have bid for them separately.
Q1632 Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve:
I may be slightly confused but what I meant by "exclusivity"
there was that it was not that you could not have different broadcasters
being successful bidders for different packages but rather that
when a broadcaster was successful in acquiring a package did that
broadcaster acquire the exclusive right to the components of that
package? These were non-overlapping packages?
Mr Collier: Yes, that is right. It was for that
Q1633 Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve:
So for each of the packages it was exclusive?
Mr Collier: That is right.
Q1634 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Did you say that you actually consulted the broadcasters in putting
together the packages?
Mr Collier: Yes.
Q1635 Lord King of Bridgwater:
So the BBC were able to put forward their views as to what a suitable
package would be for which they then did not bid?
Mr Collier: I think the evidence you have already
received stated that there were a number of meetings with the
BBC. I think a figure of 15 was quoted of meetings that were held.
Yes, there were meetings to discuss how the invitation to tender
could be put forward, so that people could hopefully bid.
Q1636 Lord Maxton:
Can I ask in all of this that we remember that the BBC is the
British Broadcasting Corporation, not the English Broadcasting
Corporation, and certainly some of us were looking quite horrified
at the idea of the BBC giving up the Open Golf to show Test cricket.
Can I come back to your website? You say you show highlights of
games on the website.
Mr Collier: Yes.
Q1637 Lord Maxton:
I had a quick trip there this morning and I could find highlights
from last summer's games but I could not find the Pakistan games.
Mr Collier: That is right.
Q1638 Lord Maxton:
I could find those on Sky but I would have to pay on the Sky website
if I were prepared to pay eight or nine pounds a month for the
right to be a member of the Sky Sports channel.
Mr Collier: There is a technical issue with
overseas matches of getting the feed back to us. In Pakistan in
the last few days a company called Ten Sports was doing some of
the actual filming of those matches, so it is something that we
are looking to expand in the future, but at the moment you are
absolutely correct: it is our home matches that we put through
Q1639 Lord Maxton:
Do you film yourself or does Sky give you the film?
Mr Collier: No. We take the feed off whoever
is the host broadcaster. It is not live for the whole match. It
is highlight packages of the match.