Future Ashes series in England may be available on free-to-air television in the UK following a review of the 'crown jewels' of sports which stipulates the events that must be available on terrestrial television and which can be bought by pay-TV operators.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that the Government have backed a review which says that the Ashes should be back on the protected list of major events. Test cricket has not been shown on terrestrial TV in the UK since 2005, when BSkyB bought the rights to all England's home matches.
When England regained the Ashes at The Oval in August viewing figures peaked at around two million compared to seven million who tuned as the 2005 series was decided.
However, any move to make the Ashes a terrestrial event is likely to run into resistance from BSkyB, who currently have the rights to the next home series in 2013 as part of the £300 million deal they signed with the ECB last year.
There is no suggestion that series outside of the Ashes could be promoted back to the A-list of events. Currently, England's home Tests are on the B-list which means that only highlights must be available on terrestrial TV and are currently shown by Five.