Cricket stuffs it up on domestic radio rights

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The Sydney Sixers' Brad Haddin hits a six during the Big Bash League. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

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It seems every day you set sights on The Roar, there is always someone fussing about the state of cricket in this nation.

To be fair, a majority of the content is very well researched, thought-out and correct.

For that reason I’ve refrained from discussing my views as what I want to say has already been said repeatedly.

That was until Friday’s report in The Age about aspects of the new radio rights left me dumbfounded considering the state of cricket in this nation.

I have no problem with Cricket Australia (CA) handing commercial radio rights for international Test cricket to 3AW and 2UE.

For starters, it’s not a new concept as 2UE in the late ’80s shared the rights with the national broadcaster and no one complained then.

The AFL and NRL have split the radio rights in the same way for years – and let’s be honest, the appreciation of the ABC has only increased as a result.

Finally, competition can only be healthy as it will help keep the ABC team from going stale or becoming arrogant in the absence of choice.

It happened to Seven’s AFL telecasts in the late 1990s and was a primary force behind cricket and rugby league exploring the option of divorcing Channel Nine for a new partner.

I also don’t mind them giving the Big Bash rights exclusively to Triple M.

The Big Bash is a shameless money-collecting product that Cricket Australia wants to help prop up revenue at a time when the A-League is becoming a serious competitor.

I have the feeling that the concept is also better suited to a commercial station that would understand how to advertise and promote in a way the BBL needs in comparison to the gentile, gentlemanly feel of ABC telecasts.

The thing that made me choke on my 5am orange juice may seem innocuously tiny, but I personally think it is a disgrace.

When it sold the radio rights to the BBL, it also sold the radio rights to the Ryobi Cup and Sheffield Shield – something Triple M has no intention of broadcasting.

Cricket Australia – the same organisation that pays Channel Nine to telecast Ryobi Cup matches – then arrogantly asked the ABC for a fee to cover these contests.

When ABC refused, they were told they could do reports but no ball-by-ball commentary was allowed.

What a joke!

The CA describes the Shield and Ryobi Cup as cradles, yet treats them with such contempt.

There is no way these two comps can command a fee, as the value doesn’t weigh up against the costs associated with it – even for the ABC.

What the ABC has provided and would have continued to do is give free airtime to CA to get their product out to the masses.

If they think the ABC will miss it, the fact they have committed to more A-League broadcasts shows they have a nonchalant attitude to losing the telecast.

It will hurt in February 2014 when the A-League is streamed all over Australia, while cricket has nothing on air as the T20 ‘hit and giggle’ and the Ashes will be completed.

If Channel Nine have to be paid nearly $1 million to telecast the Ryobi Cup, how does Cricket Australia believe they can command a fee from the ABC to cover a comp most people have lost interest in?

It’s short-sighted, laughable and should be rectified immediately.

The A-League and other summer sports will benefit enormously from the increased exposure.

Only cricket will lose from their greed.

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