Murdoch's BSkyB may lose television cricket rights in the UK

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London, Nov.13 (ANI): Media baron Rupert Murdoch's Sky Television is in danger of losing television cricket rights after a British government appointed panel recommended that all home Ashes Tests be shown only on free-to-air television.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has reacted furiously to proposals put forward by David Davies, the former executive director of the Football Association, who is heading a government review committee on sport's listed events.

If the recommendations are approved by the Gordon Brown-led Cabinet, the ECB will no longer be allowed to sell television rights to the Ashes to the highest bidder.

According to The Independent, alarm bells are ringing in Murdoch's BSkyB, who are beginning a 300 million pound four-year deal for exclusive coverage of England's Test matches and have poured huge amounts into sport in this country in a successful bid to boost subscription.

Though the proposal will not affect the current cricket deal, it could have a dramatic influence on the future relationship between Sky and the ECB.

The proposals are for one list of live sport that must be shown on non-subscription channels, with the secondary list of events that must be available as highlights being scrapped.

England's home Test matches had been on the B-list after the ECB had lobbied hard for them to be downgraded a decade ago. hat led to a lucrative partnership with Sky, but meant the sport was watched by far fewer viewers.

Other sports that will be affected by Davies's report include football, with international qualifying games for the home nations to be added to the World Cup and European Championship finals as protected events, while the Epsom Derby and rugby league's Challenge Cup final may be removed from the list.

A number of sports' governing bodies are angry with the way in which the review has been carried out. They say that financial implications have not been given due consideration.

Davies is an apolitical figure and a member of the panel stressed that the conclusions were reached with no outside interference.

A three-month period of consultation will follow before Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary, and the sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, decide whether to adopt any of the reports findings. (ANI)

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