Archive for November 12th, 2009

Ashes to regain crown-jewel status?

Our first post from Senior Associate Director, Peter Roberts (who will soon be posting from his own account):


In 1998, England’s home Test cricket matches, including the Ashes, were controversially axed from the list of so-called, “crown jewel” events; that is those events that are deemed far too precious not to televise on free-to-air. Other jewels include the Olympics and football’s World Cup.

The Ashes have since, largely, been the preserve of digital television, bar the 2005 series, which was shown to great public approval – undoubtedly, a sure testament of free TV’s ability to bring the nation together.

A review of the listed events has been ongoing with the recommendations set to be announced tomorrow – Friday. England’s homes Ashes Test are set to return to free-to-air, much to the vexation, no doubt, of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

However, here lies the nub; the current contract to show England’s home test matches runs until 2013. Consequently, England’s first Ashes series to be shown on free-to-air won’t be until 2017.

Now, that may be a long time in cricket, but it’s an awfully long time in television terms. With analogue switch off expected to have been completed in the UK by 2012, the fractured broadcasting landscape will be an altogether different place compared to the relatively stable picture in 2005, which begs one to ask how much coming together will accompany the Ashes return.  – Peter