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The BBC's Gordon Farhquar
"The BBC offered a substantial sum"
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Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 18:21 GMT
Fresh cricket deal for BBC
ECB chairman Lord MacLaurin announced the deal
The long-term future of BBC Radio's Test Match Special has received a boost, after the corporation signed a new five-year deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The deal gives the BBC exclusive ball-by-ball coverage of all home Tests, one-day internationals and the quarter-final stages onwards of the two domestic One-Day knock-out competitions.

What eventually swung the decision in the BBC's favour was their willingness to promote the game right across the network from Radio Four through to Five Live and Radio One

Chairman of the ECB, Lord MacLaurin
It is an extension of the BBC's current four-year deal, which expires at the end of the forthcoming domestic season, and will come into force at the beginning of the 2001 season.

BBC Director-General Greg Dyke said: "This is terrific news for cricket lovers.

"We're delighted with this vote of confidence from the ECB and it marks the start of a great new era for the BBC and Sport."

Under the terms of the deal, the BBC will provide listeners with an early-evening highlights programme, quarter-hourly updates and features on Radio 5 Live and, for the first time, cricket reports on Radio 1's Newsbeat programme.

In addition, there will be extensive cricket coverage on BBC Local Radio and the creation of a new Test Match Special Young Cricketer of the Year Award.

Marketing campaign

The Corporation has also agreed to support its coverage with an extensive on and off-air marketing campaign and support a campaign designed to ensure wider provision of children's cricket safety helmets.

Test Match Special continues to be the BBC's flagship cricket programme
Announcing the deal, ECB chairman Lord MacLaurin said: "We have had to think long and hard before making this decision as both the BBC and talkSport made very impressive bids for the radio rights.

"We believe the breadth of their coverage - coupled with enhanced promotional and marketing support - will help us achieve our goal of maximising cricket's appeal still further.

The ECB's Marketing Director, Terry Blake, said: "The competition for home international coverage has been extremely competitive and the agreement we have reached with the BBC represents a significant increase in rights fees.

"In making our decision, we wanted to strike the right balance between reaching the widest possible audience and securing increased revenues for the development of the game at all levels.

"I am delighted to say that we have achieved that goal and we look forward to renewing our partnership with BBC Radio, and of course, the Test Match Special Team."
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