BBC 'wants 2013 Ashes simulcast'

Wednesday, October 28 2009, 14:34 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

BBC director of sports rights Dominic Coles has suggested that the 2013 Ashes cricket series should be simulcast on the BBC and Sky Sports.

A panel of experts led by former FA executive director David Davies is currently reviewing the list of sporting events that are protected for broadcast on free-to-air television.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) recently agreed a new £300m deal with Sky for England international cricket coverage, which comes into force next year and includes the 2013 Ashes.

Any attempts by the review panel to place the Ashes back on the list of protected sporting events would be strongly opposed by the ECB, because it views the money gained from TV deals as vital for funding grassroots cricket development in the UK.

Speaking to The Guardian, Coles said that the BBC cannot compete with Sky's financial muscle, but there is another way to resolve this issue by simulcasting the series on pay and free-to-air TV.

"We can never compete with Sky in terms of the vast amounts of money they offer. But since 2005 [when the Ashes were shown on Channel 4] the numbers watching sport on pay-TV have plateaued," he said.

"So we feel that if Sky retained all of England's international cricket but allowed us to simulcast only the next Ashes series this would be a solution. The BBC would also be in a position to broadcast it all by then because of the digital TV switch-on and the proliferation of channels."

The sports rights review panel will submit its findings to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport at the end of this month.