Ashes…..to the BBC?
One of the sub-plots to ‘lettergate’ was that it gave the BBC an opportunity to subtly needle the Murdoch media empire. I remember vividly listening to a commentator on its Radio 5 Live subtly supporting Brown; quite rightly saying that he meant no offence. On the same station I also remember the sports news reporter barely concealing a squeal of delight at the news that the ‘Crown Jewels’ list of sporting events was to include home Ashes Test Matches.
A bit simplistic to term it Brown’s ‘revenge’ but I can’t imagine the curtailing of Sky‘s monopoly on major sporting events would make him that miserable. Predictably, governing bodies are complaining and equally as predictably Sky are siding with the governing bodies;
“As the advisory panel has rightly acknowledged, sports bodies are best placed to know what is right for their sport’s future. If you remove their choice on how to assign their rights it could have a disastrous impact on their long-term health. That would be a sad sporting legacy.
However, as the spokesperson for Sky continues you realise that the sole determinant of ‘long-term’ health is actually money and the amount a sport has. Similarly, the uproar amoung the governing bodies is focused on the same thing; talk of decay centres purely on these debates. It is highly tempting to feel little sympathy for governing bodies and clubs who gorge themselves on money, invest precious little in grass-roots and when the prospect arises of that drying up ring alarm bells. Of course, wider considerations about lack of audience (and therefore new talent influx) go by the wayside. This is especially true for Cricket which is seemingly in terminal decline when it comes to an audience. It really is a microcosm of the madness of the market all concentrated in one place.
If Sky was so concerned to keep the event it could potentially do so by providing a way for it to be shown unencrypted maybe on a digital frequency or some such innovation and recoup the outlay by selling advertising space (revenue from which would be vastly increased by the larger audience base). However, we all know that this is not Sky‘s concern (the acquisition of subscribers and maintenance of its monopoly is) and therefore I have little sympathy for it or the governing bodies. I think the Davies review had the correct priorities and that it was right to ‘put the viewing public’ and sports fans first.