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ECB extends deals with Sky & Five

A TV cameraman follows England cricketers at Lord's
TV cameras keep a close eye on England's players

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced a new four-year television deal with Sky Sports and Five.

Satellite broadcaster Sky will continue to show live domestic and international matches while Five will show a highlights package on terrestrial TV.

The new contracts are worth a combined 300m and run from 2010 until 2013.

It means there continues to be no live cricket on terrestrial television, a situation which has existed since the current TV contract began in 2006.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke has called for a public debate into the reasons why the BBC failed to make a bid for the various packages.

"Now is the time for a real debate on the future of public sector sports broadcasting, which I know is under consideration and under review," said Clarke.

"All these 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 as they do in the case of one of them for 12 other sports?

"After all, just how many people play Formula One? If the BBC is to remain part of this it must answer to the millions of cricket fans in England and Wales how it prioritises its investment in sports rights.

"We held extensive talks with all broadcasters and were determined to be as flexible as possible.

"The ECB recognise and are grateful for Sky Sports' loyalty to the sport - both at home and when the England team tour overseas."

The BBC will continue to offer live coverage of England matches on Test Match Special on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and on Radio Four long wave and on the BBC Sport website.

606: DEBATE
A BBC spokeswoman rejected the ECB's criticisms for not bidding for the television rights.

"The BBC is astonished by the comments by the ECB," she said.

"We've always said any bid for live Test cricket was subject to value for money and fitting into scheduling and in our view neither of these criteria were met.

"We have consistently argued that not having cricket as a listed event puts it out of the reach of all terrestrial broadcasters.

"That's the ECB's choice and they are entitled to it, but it's absurd to blame the BBC for this outcome.

"We wrote to the ECB in the spring expressing our willingness to continue to discuss highlights with them. They did not choose to do so."


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