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Talks ‘stall’ over free-to-air rights for England’s Ashes defence

Talks have stalled over a UK free-to-air highlights deal for England’s forthcoming Ashes cricket series in Australia, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The newspaper said that unless the situation is resolved in the next month, television coverage of England’s defence of the Ashes will only be available to customers of pay-television broadcaster BSkyB.

The only free-to-air coverage of the series is currently scheduled to be public-service broadcaster the BBC’s Test Match Special radio programme and two-minute clips shown by news channels.

Sky acquired the exclusive live rights to the 2013-14 Ashes series from the Cricket Australia governing body and has control over whether to agree a highlights deal with a terrestrial broadcaster.

Highlights of the previous edition of the Ashes in Australia, in 2010-11, were provided by commercial broadcaster ITV’s digital terrestrial channel ITV4 under a deal struck with Cricket Australia.