Sport and the media: Smith favours `unbundled' deals

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Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said yesterday that he is examining controversial exclusive sports rights.

BSkyB's buy-ups of events such as golf's Ryder Cup, world title boxing fights and England's Test Matches abroad have deprived non-cable and satellite homes of even the highlights of those sports.

But Smith said "unbundled" deals, which would make recorded highlights available to terrestrial channels, were important to preserve national audiences for sport.

Smith's department is currently examining the "crown jewels" list of nationally important events excluded from non-terrestrial buy-ups, but he said in a speech in Edinburgh: "The issue of simultaneous output and transmission of highlights or time-shifted coverage, I think, is every bit as important as what we do about the crown jewels."