Sunday, 6 December 2009

Glasgow Commonwealth Games facing multi-million pound gap


Exclusive: Glasgow Commonwealth Games facing multi-million pound gap in budget after Davies report

Sunday, 06 December 2009

By Steven Downes

December 5 - Officials at Glasgow 2014 may be left with a £20 million hole in their budget as a result of the recommendation to drop the Commonwealth Games from Britain’s protected list of free-to-air televised sporting events.

Ben Bradshaw, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, will issue his response soon to the report on TV sport’s "Crown Jewels", which was delivered by David Davies and his committee last month.

There follows a three-month consultation period.

Provided there is not a UK general election before the end of March, Davies's recommendations could come in to force immediately thereafter.

Two small paragraphs of advice contained within the 110-page report passed almost unnoticed when it was published last month.

Yet the recommendations to drop the Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games from the protected list of free-to-air events has caused dismay in Glasgow and London, with one source involved with winter sports describing the suggestion as "deeply disappointing".

Davies's review of the protected list, the first to be conducted since 1998, took nine months, and it clearly struggled to reconcile the aspiration that key events of national interest should be seen by as many of the public as possible, while protecting sports bodies’ ability to generate income from TV rights.
Commonwealth officials fear that by de-listing the Games, Britain will replace a public-funded monopoly of coverage by the BBC with effectively a commercial monopoly, and one in which the value of the rights are starkly reduced.

The Commonwealth Games has traditionally always received in-depth coverage on the BBC, whether staged at home or abroad.

The BBC has served as host broadcaster at the 1970, 1986 and 2002 Games.

But its estimation of the value of the Games appears to be diminishing: Delhi 2010 is receiving just 60 per cent of the rights fees from the BBC that was paid to the organisers of the 2006 Melbourne Games.

Glasgow 2014, which recently increased its overall budget for staging the Games by £81 million, had based its bid on the BBC being its host broadcaster, setting the cost of hiring broadcast services at £19.3 million while placing the same value on the domestic TV rights "sold" to the BBC.

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