Unbelievable. If The Guardian is to be believed, the England and Wales Cricket board has attacked the BBC for failing to make any formal bid in the latest TV rights negotiations.
According to Mike Sweeney the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, claimed there were 19 million cricket fans in the UK who all paid their licence fee and should be catered for by public service broadcasters such as the BBC.
“All these [19 million] people interested in cricket, buy TV licences and surely they should have a right to expect that the public sector broadcasters mount bids for the nation’s summer sport,” said Clarke.
This p*sses me off a bit. Why? Well, regular readers will already be aware that I think that there should be cricket on free TV, and the BBC would be well placed to show it. I have very fond memories of racing home from school to watch BBC 2 and hear the doyen pour forth his wisdom.
However, the reality is that the ECB sold out to the highest bidder when the cricket went to Sky. Clarke’s predecessors went for the cash, which means that The Village Cricketer – along with everyone else – has to shell out upwards of £30 a month to watch.
The game makes a huge amount of money from the Sky contract and the BBC – with lots of things to spend money on – decided it couldn’t compete.
So why am I p*ssed off? Because, I suspect that Mr Clarke has no interest whatsoever in there being cricket on the BBC. I suspect that he wanted the BBC to bid to push the price up on what other broadcasters would have to pay. The attack was commercially motivated – dressed up as public interest – get back in your box Giles.