England news November 19, 2008

ECB broadcasting deal 'a charade'

Cricinfo staff

A confidential memo from the broadcaster Setanta has described the ECB's handling of their TV rights deal a "charade", and accuses Giles Clarke of "making up the rules as he went along".

BSkyB extended their contract in August in a deal worth around £300 million (US$600 million). At the time, Clarke, the ECB's chairman who has ruffled plenty of feathers in his short time in office, attacked Channel 4 and the BBC for not submitting a challenge to Sky. Now, however, a senior executive at Setanta - whose £30 million bid was unsuccessful - described the process as a charade and complained the company was treated with "contempt" by the ECB.

Clarke rejected the criticism. "The tender documents were compiled by external legal counsel in accordance with European Commission law, and the negotiations with broadcasters were conducted impeccably by the ECB's commercial director, John Perera, and Clive Leach, the chairman of Durham," he told the Daily Telegraph. "Setanta have no grounds for complaint, and they have not raised any concerns with the board or the ECB executive."

Sky's deal, which has attracted criticism from many observers who feel it ostracises sections of the population, runs for four years.