Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1811
TUESDAY 17 JANUARY 2006
Mr Brian Barwick and Mr Simon Johnson
Welcome to you both. Thank you very much for coming. It seems
to me, reading your biographies, that you have a combination of
experiences because both of you come from the world of television.
Mr Barwick, you were Controller of Sport for ITV for seven years
and you also ran Match of the Day on the BBC for a long
period before that.
Mr Barwick: I did indeed, yes.
Simon Johnson, you were ITV's programme commissioning and acquisitions
business manager, very much including sport?
Mr Johnson: That is correct.
You therefore speak with authority. We are grateful for you very
clear letter. I will not go through all the points that you include
in that, but, just so that we can get everything clear, you say
that the FA Cup is one of your main commercial assets, to use
your phrase, that it is now getting to an interesting stage. As
a Midlands member, I am wearing the Tamworth Nuneaton and indeed
Burton colours in a sense at the moment; we will see what happens.
You set out very clearly the audience figures for the BBC when
they are televising the FA Cup. How does that compare with Sky?
What kind of audience figures do Sky have?
Mr Johnson: My Lord Chairman, we are at a slight
disadvantage in that we have been unable to supply you with the
viewing figures for BSkyB. They follow some time behind, and so
the information we supplied to you was up-to-date information
for the BBC.
Mr Barwick: I could give you a general comparison,
which is probably in the region of 1:5.
So the BBC has five times more audience than Sky?
Mr Barwick: Yes, and that is approximate.
Do you take that sort of thing into account when you are thinking
about your responsibilities to football generally?
Mr Barwick: Yes, I think so. I have to say that
the last time the Football Association sold its rights, I was
trying to buy them. The next time they sell them, I will be trying
to sell them. It will be quite an interesting change of position.
I think the Football Association has a responsibility to the game,
which means that it should, as one of its core ambitions, try
to maximise revenue, but equally try to make sure it encourages
the wider participation of the game and also the ability for people
to see the game. We have to balance that duality really.
Would it worry you that so comparatively few people watch BSkyB?
Mr Barwick: No, because I think broadcasting
is a changing landscape. Some of the bigger and more important
games on BSkyB now are watched by significant numbers. Earlier
this season I might have been right to suggest to you that when
Manchester United played Chelsea on a Sunday afternoon in the
Premier League, 3.6 million watched. These are becoming significant
Even so, they are a long way behind the BBC?
Mr Barwick: That is absolutely true.
Therefore, you are in a very good position, given your different
jobs, for this next question. How much did the BBC pay to the
FA for the rights?
Mr Johnson: I do not think we have put that
information into the public domain. The deal was done a couple
of years ago. I was checking that this morning. It is not in the
public domain. Our present deal that I told you about in the letter
is a four-year agreement between ourselves and jointly the BBC
and BSkyB. There is a total figure for that. That is not a public
figure. Also, we do not divulge how the division for payments
is made between the BBC and Sky. If it would be helpful to you,
I can give you an indication of the FA's overall income, but I
think you are specifically trying to get the value of the television
rights, which unfortunately, because this is a public session,
I cannot help with any further.
As a matter of policy, you just do not get that information?
Mr Johnson: We have not published it in this
current deal. Whether that remains a policy for the future is
something we still need to resolve, but in this current deal,
we have not publicised the amount of television revenues that