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National and International

Roger Mosey | 15:28 UK time, Thursday, 7 September 2006

A fascinating start to the Euro 2008 qualifiers: England and Scotland with maximum points, and a great comeback by Northern Ireland against Spain after a bad start against Iceland.

I know a lot of people are interested in audience figures, so here are the key ones for the BBC network coverage. The biggest audience in recent days was a peak of 9.1m for England v Andorra live from Old Trafford. Then we had 3.9m watching the climax of Brazil v Argentina on BBC One; and 3.4m watched Wednesday's Match Of The Day with highlights of Macedonia v England and Northern Ireland v Spain. (The peak for Sky's live coverage from Macedonia was 2.6m.) Wales v Brazil rated at 1.1m on BBC Three; and Germany v Ireland reached a high of 673,000 also on BBC Three...

But there were a lot of complaints on the same lines about last night's Match Of The Day - with people asking us why highlights of Lithuania v Scotland weren't included. The answer, as to many things, is it's a rights issue: we didn't have access to the pictures from Lithuania. This isn't in any sense anti-Scottish bias: it's just that contracts in this multichannel world are inevitably uneven. So the BBC have England home football games and Northern Ireland home games, while Sky have Scotland and Wales at home. The position's reversed in this autumn's rugby internationals with Scotland and the other Celtic nations on the BBC, while England's autumn internationals are (with one important exception) on Sky. For the Six Nations, all the coverage is on the BBC.

In retrospect, we should probably have been clearer about what was going on last night; and for the rest of the Euro 2008 qualifiers and beyond we'll be try to give more information about what you can watch and where. We'll also be making sure that BBC Sport in London works with colleagues across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver the best possible service to our audiences - in football as in all other sports.

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