For a third of a century, Australia’s Channel Nine has been, to use its long-running advertising slogan, Still The One for telecasting international cricket. This maybe soon to come to an end. Next March, following the end of the 2012-13 domestic Australian season, the current contract to televise Cricket Australia’s home fixtures in Australia will expire. The Nine Network, holders of those rights continuously since 1979, are currently in a battle to avoid entering administration.
One of the biggest tasks for David Richardson when he takes over in July as chief executive of the ICC will be to secure the best possible rights deal for 2015-2023. The future of the ICC’s development programs will be financially secured, but could the evolution of the sport be locked away for eight years?
"This is the second most important day in world cricket, according to me. The first was in 1994 when the monopoly of Doordarshan came to an end when we won the court case."
- Inderjit Singh Bindra, member of the IPL Governing Committee, discussing the IPL player auction, OutlookIndia.com, 20.2.08
Call me a cynic, but Bindra is not too far off the mark with this self-serving observation.
The wealthiest sporting body in the world not to have its own website, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), wants to buy the worldwide broadcasting and new media rights to all ICC-run tournaments from 2007 to 2015. There is just one word that should be said, if not screamed, in reply:
Never mind that the BCCI's current executive conducts business with a coherence and transparency that makes the North Korean Government green with envy, it's the simple conflict of interest involved in one franchise owning all the most lucrative rights to a competition in which it is one of the players.
The First Test between Pakistan and India is now hours away and, as usual, the broadcast arrangements within India have only just been finalised this week. And there are winners and losers, as usual.
Thought-provoking opinion piece in today's Guardian by former New Statesman editor Peter Wilby on the controversy over English Test cricket TV rights. Wilby argues that Government intervention to keep Test cricket on free-to-air television would be inappropriate. "But sport is just entertainment, for heaven's sake."
The SBS televising Test cricket in Australia would be a bit like Channel 5 showing cricket in the UK (oh hrm, that's next year isn't it?)
Still, they got the guernsey (or should that be yellow jersey) after every other FTA network declined the offer. So, on Thursday, Australia's multicultural television network begins its first incursion into the world of cricket.