The Test and County Cricket Board yesterday confirmed that from next season the BBC will retain exclusive rights to cover Test matches in England and the NatWest Trophy competition. BSkyB takes over exclusive coverage of the Texaco one-day internationals and the Benson and Hedges Cup, both currently the preserve of the BBC. Highlights of all events will be shown on both channels.
Brian Downing, the TCCB's chairman of marketing, said that under the new arrangements televised coverage would double from 300 to 600 hours while income from rights would treble. 'It's cricket entering the big league. It's a responsible deal, for cricket and the viewer.'
Yesterday's announcement does not affect overseas Test matches, the domain of Sky for the last four years, as television rights are negotiated with each respective country's cricket board separately.
Alan Smith, the board's chief executive, said the money was badly needed to 'improve grounds and facilities and above all to encourage youngsters to play cricket'. He promised that a 'proportion of the television rights would be directed towards developing the game at grass roots level'.
Live coverage of the AXA Equity and Law Sunday League will be divided between the two channels.
Will Wyatt, managing director of BBC Network Television, said: 'The Tests and NatWest Trophy are the blue riband events of the game and securing live coverage has been a priority for the BBC. We've taken a realistic approach to the market place and believe this deal will deliver both quality and value.'
ITV has agreed a pounds 6m deal for coverage of domestic athletics meetings in 1995 and 1996. Seven events are covered by the agreement.
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