The latest round of BBC Sport outside broadcast contracts are not sustainable, according to SIS chief executive Gary Smith.


On Monday, BBC Sport announced that its outside broadcast work would be split between CTV, NEP Visions, Presteigne Charter and Telegenic, ending SIS Live’s five-year role as the broadcaster’s principal sport OB provider.

BBC director of sport Barbara Slater said the broadcaster had been unable to reach an agreement with SIS Live and that the new mix of suppliers would “ensure best value for money”.

Smith told Broadcast the terms SIS offered were the lowest it could manage and that the prices quoted by other suppliers were “below a sustainable, long-term level”.

“The BBC has got very strict and difficult cost targets to meet. Regretfully for our staff and business we have suffered collateral damage,” he said.

“We employ more staff [than our competitors] and have invested in lots of trucks and kit, mainly to deliver BBC work, and our prices need to reflect those investments.

“The BBC recognises the quality of service we provide, and the quality of our assets and people. They just couldn’t find a way to pay to keep those assets and people.”

SIS Live future

Smith said it was too early to say if there would be job losses among SIS Live’s 230 staff, the “vast majority” of which are ex-BBC staff who joined the company when it acquired the BBC’s OB division in 2008.

SIS Live’s work for BBC Sport accounts for a third of the company’s OB contracts and its focus now is on finding new business with other broadcasters, Smith said.

He confirmed SIS would now undertake a four week-long review of its OB division.

“No business can lose a third of its work without considering the impact,” he said. “We will spend the next month talking to other customers with OB requirements.

“Those suppliers now working with the BBC will be significantly stretched and there are other market needs that need to be met.”

Smith added that he was confident the company would find a “healthy way forward” but made it clear that SIS Live needed to be “self-standing” and not a “drain on the rest of the business”.