ECB hails 'astounding' new TV deal

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The Independent Online

English cricket was in jubilant mood yesterday after securing an increase in its broadcasting rights agreements. Not even the loss of the Test series to Pakistan could take the shine off the announcement that Sky will again show all Test and limited-overs matches live for four years from 2014 and that Channel Five will once more screen early evening highlights.

Overseas rights are due for renewal later in the year and the signs are that they too will hold at their present levels. The deal was closed by the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, David Collier, in Abu Dhabi early yesterday morning.

He said: "There is an overall increase in the broadcasting agreements. We can't give an indication of exact numbers but an overall increase is truly astounding in this climate."

Sky are likely to have matched their current four-year contract of around £260m and the increase may well have come from the BBC radio rights.

The new deals mean that cricket will still not be shown on BBC Television, which has been the case since 1999.

Collier added: "The truth is we can only respond to people who bid. We are now in a situation where BBC have focused on the radio rights. We have had excellent discussions with BBC. One of the things we put to them strongly was that not only is Test Match Special important but also local radio."

Sky did not have a clear run to the rights, with Collier indicating there had been interest from global broadcasters. Sky have an option to extend the new deal by two years.