English television rights September 12, 2005

Government will not intervene in TV deal

Cricinfo staff

Richard Caborn: 'There is no intention of the Government to intervene' © Getty Images
Reports in the weekend newspapers that a group called Keep Cricket Free were going to lobby the government to overturn the ECB's TV deal with BSkyB have drawn a firm response from Richard Caborn, the sports minister.

David Brooks, the former strategy director of Channel 4, set up the group in a bid to get the four-year exclusive contract reviewed, but Caborn made it clear that it was a non starter.

"On Friday during the Oval Test this lad stopped me and said he had set up a website for Keep Cricket Free, and would I listen to him," Caborn told The Daily Telegraph. "I will listen to anyone. But as far as the deal is concerned this is a commercial deal and there is no intention of the Government to intervene.

"I am very supportive of cricket and all that the ECB have done. The deal the ECB have done is confidential and we do not know who bid what. But it is clear the terrestrial broadcasters did not bid enough, and the ECB had to do the best deal for cricket."

It was always extremely unlikely that the government would interfere in a private deal which satisfied both the ECB and the broadcaster, and had also been run past media regulator Ofcom before it was completed.