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TV's 'crown jewels' Q & A

Andrew Strauss & England's winning Ashes team
People may be able to watch future Ashes series on free-to-air TV

By James Munro
BBC sports news correspondent

WHAT ARE THE 'CROWN JEWELS'?

These are deemed to be sporting events which have a "special national resonance".

Occasions on the sporting calendar which even non-sports fans might be interested in.

These events are protected under the 1996 Broadcasting Act, which ensures that they are available live on free-to-air television.

A second group of events also currently has to be shown, at least as delayed highlights, although the panel led by David Davies has recommended that this group is scrapped.

WHAT WAS DAVID DAVIES'S REMIT?

In simple terms, he was asked whether Britain still needs a list, and if so, what should be on it.

His answer appears to be a qualified "Yes".

Yes, in so much as there are sporting events that should be protected. But there is the question: "Is a list the best way of doing it?"

Both broadcasters and governing bodies are being challenged to come up with alternative ways to make major sporting events available to all, without creating funding problems for the sports.

In the meantime, Davies will provide his own thoughts on what should be on, and off the list.

WHO ARE THE WINNERS AND LOSERS?

More armchair viewers will be able to watch key sporting events live, but that will not necessarily benefit terrestrial broadcasters.

Sky has bought the rights for the Ashes in 2013, but the 2017 series, for example, will take place long after the digital switch-over, which means other broadcasters will be able to offer it free-to-air if the move to protect the series goes ahead.

606: DEBATE
GoonerMaestro

More competition could mean higher TV rights deals.

Still, governing bodies such as the England and Wales Cricket Board are right to be concerned about the potential financial impact of not being able to sell their most valuable television rights to the highest bidder.

The talk at Lord's is of losing out on more than £100m, and of thousands of coaching jobs being at risk as a result of the switch.

IS THAT IT THEN?

No. Davies's report is only a recommendation, which culture secretary Ben Bradshaw will then send out with his thoughts to the sports, broadcasters and other stakeholders.

A consultation period of about three months will follow, after which the Department of Culture, Media and Sport will need to make sure that any changes do not fall foul of European laws. Only then might the current list be amended.



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see also
Panel names free-to-air choices
13 Nov 09 |  Sport Homepage
Ashes set for free-to-air return
12 Nov 09 |  Sport Homepage
Scottish FA dismayed by TV plan
13 Nov 09 |  Internationals
BBC renews radio cricket contract
23 Dec 08 |  England
Brown worry on football coverage
11 Sep 08 |  UK Politics
Uefa eyes change to free TV football
06 Jun 08 |  Business
ECB extends deals with Sky & Five
05 Aug 08 |  Cricket
ITV scores in FA Cup rights fight
30 Mar 07 |  Business
ECB wants active TV rights market
14 Jul 06 |  Cricket


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