ABC, BBC locked out of Ashes radios

The in-ground radios for the Ashes series ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Fans wishing to listen to commercial-free, ball-by-ball radio coverage of the Ashes series at the venue will need to bring their own radios after Cricket Australia froze out the ABC and the BBC from the three-channel earpieces sold and distributed at each ground.

The commercial networks Channel Nine, BT Sport and Triple M are the networks included on the earpieces, which have been part of the at-ground experience in Ashes Tests since 2010-11. In recent summers the earpieces have generally been tuned to take coverage from Nine, the ABC and Fairfax radio.

The choice of broadcasters, omitting the two leading radio providers with long histories of covering the game in Australia and England, raised numerous eyebrows during the first Test of the series in Brisbane.

It was initially thought that CA may rotate the networks used on the earpieces on a match-by-match basis this series, in part to acknowledge the bigger-than-usual array of coverage options available for the Ashes and its wider-than-ever attendant following.

However ESPNcricinfo has learned that Nine, BT and Triple M will retain their places on the device throughout all the remaining Tests in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, with the only likelihood of change to be for the limited-overs matches that follow the Ashes.

"We have five broadcasters and three channels," a CA spokesman said. "The Nine Network is allocated one because it engages with the largest audience (8 million Australians watched the Brisbane broadcast), and BT provides English fans at the match with the English commentary.

"This year we are rotating the third slot to be fair to our radio broadcasters: the ABC and Macquarie have each had a channel for a number of years, when we had just the one TV broadcast, and this year it is Triple M's turn."

In its strategy document released earlier this year, CA stated that its goal for followers of the game is that: "We will give fans what they want and grow the Big Bash."

This summer is the last of the existing domestic broadcast rights deals with Nine for international cricket and the Ten Network for the BBL and WBBL, which were signed in 2013 and worth A$590 million over five years. Formal negotiations are expected to begin in the new year, following Ten's successful acquisition by the American broadcasting giant CBS.