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Ashes on free TV moves a step closer

The prospect of Ashes cricket returning to free-to-air TV moved a step closer last night after the Government broadly accepted a "persuasive" set of recommendations made by David Davies' report into the future of the "crown jewels" of British sport on the small screen.

But England's cricket authorities nevertheless remain convinced they can maintain the status quo, which sees Sky enjoy exclusive rights to Test cricket in this country.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said they were "extremely pleased" following the publication of an initial consultation by Ben Bradshaw, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Mr Bradshaw has concluded that there should continue to be a protected list of events – the crown jewels – that must be shown on free-to-air television, but that a financial "impact assessment" should also be made.

It was the ensuing loss of income through much reduced TV rights, that most concerned the ECB.