Kelvin MacKenzie blasts 'footie rights warehouse' BSkyB
Battle for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy taken to Ofcom
The latest onslaught against media baron Rupert Murdoch comes from an unlikely assailant. Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie says he'll lodge a complaint with Ofcom over BSkyB's exclusive ownership of football rights.
MacKenzie briefly ran BSkyB as its MD, after leaving the Currant Bun in 1994, and has often defended Murdoch's News Corporation, the largest shareholder in BSkyB and owner of Sun-publisher News International.
Having sold TalkSport seven years ago, MacKenzie today runs Sports Tonight, a TV channel currently available on IP, but aiming to launch on Sky's platform.
MacKenzie accused BSkyB of "hoarding or warehousing" the rights for games in the old football league: the broadcaster has exclusive dibs on the Championship and old Third and Fourth (now First and Second) league divisions. He told the FT that clubs should be able to individually negotiate coverage rights rather than fall under a blanket agreement brokered by league bosses. BSkyB also has rights to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Ironically, it was a ludicrous £315m deal to televise lower-tier Football League games that sank ONdigital, the digital pay TV rival to BSkyB.
But the distribution picture has changed somewhat in the past decade. With falling costs and new local channels applying to Ofcom for a slice of White Space, there may well be a market for viewing lower-tier games - if the price is right. MacKenzie could be on to something.
Although Sky is a lucrative operation today, with an annual average revenue of £546 per user, it wasn't always so. The broadcaster bled red ink for 13 years before finally turning a profit in 2002. ®
£546 a year for Sky?
So Sky subscribers cough up an average of £546 a year - and people still winge about paying £145 licence fee to fund all the BBC TV and radio channels!
Sky have shafted football and are doing so to cricket,
darts, tennis, rugby league and any other sport they get their grubby hands on.
The recent Manchester derby/title decider got a whopping 4 million viewers! Granted this probably doesn't count all those who saw it in the pub but one of the most eagerly anticipated games of recent time is stashed away on a niche channel?
Kids can't see most sports these days unless their parents pay the Murdoch tax, cricket's fan base is being eroded as you can't watch the coverage unless you agree to have sky.
Sky haven't made football worth millions, football was doing ok thank you very much before sky came along pumped the money into the top and let the lower leagues and grass roots of the game wither. Look at Italian football, they feasted on the tv money and when that dried up the game crumbled from the top down as well as the bottom up. Spanish football is enjoying the money now but it won't last forever.
Better, simpler solution
Outlaw exclusivity deals altogether. Just because one broadcaster wants to show a match, shouldn't mean nobody else is allowed to. That way, broadcasters would have to compete fairly on their own merits.
Now that everybody has a digital TV (or no pictures) nobody is limited to just five channels anymore. There is room for at least the BBC and ITV to have their own dedicated sports channels.