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Farewell to Grandstand

Roger Mosey | 09:57 UK time, Friday, 26 January 2007

This weekend will see the final appearance of Grandstand.

We announced last year that we were going to phase out the Grandstand title as part of our ambitious plans for the future of BBC Sport, and I confirmed the timing in an interview with The Guardian in December .

There's an endearingly bizarre piece in this morning's Daily Mail that claims we didn't want people to notice - which would be odd considering the publicity around the original announcement and the fact that we'll be broadcasting an on-air tribute to Grandstand at the end of Sunday's programme.

Yes, we so wanted to keep it secret that we're marking the fact on national television after it was first made known in announcements to the entire BBC staff and on the front page of the Daily Mirror.

We're very proud of what Grandstand's achieved over the decades.

Like many people, I grew up watching it - and I salute the pioneers who brought it to our screens.

But from our audience research and in our discussions about the future, we believe we can serve people better in the digital age by bringing in new formats and greater choice.

Much more of our sport is already outside the Grandstand brand than within it. So the aim remains to bring you more sport than ever before, with the scheduling dictated increasingly by you rather than by us - and with the freedom to enjoy our output on the web and on interactive television as well as on the conventional channels.

Let me be absolutely clear: this does not mean the end of sport on BBC One and BBC Two on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The first weekend without Grandstand will see us showcasing Six Nations rugby - live and exclusive on the BBC from 1pm.

Our ability to schedule at times when the biggest numbers can watch means that this season there'll be 4 o'clock kick-offs like England v Scotland; 5.30pm kick-offs such as Ireland v England; and even an 8pm match featuring Wales from the Stade de France. There will be just as much sport on terrestrial television as before.

And we have a terrific range of sport this winter and early spring. The FA Cup live and England's home internationals - with England v Spain coming soon. Match Of The Day bringing you every Premiership goal.

Masters golf from Augusta, the Grand National, World Snooker, the Rugby League Challenge Cup, nightly programmes with the best of the Cricket World Cup, the London Marathon - and much more...

We will also continue to show minority sports, and our commitment to Olympic sports in particular will grow as we get closer to London 2012.

When we announced our intentions about Grandstand last year there was a mixed response. A lot of supportive comment in the newspapers and from some of you on the blog, but also a lot of loyalty to Grandstand and what it's achieved over the years. We obviously share that.

But we believe that by reflecting the way the world's changing, we can be even stronger in the future - while still being proud of our past.

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