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The biggest events, for the largest number of people

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Roger Mosey | 08:00 UK time, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

From a talk given at Westminster University, 10 March 2009

I'm enormously proud that we have retained so many of the crown jewels of sport for the BBC - and our rights team have done a brilliant job in securing Wimbledon, the Six Nations, Match Of The Day, Test Match Special and the rest well into the next decade. This month we add Formula 1, and this autumn we introduce Football League and the Carling Cup.

BBC camera, Wimbledon 1967

Our rights portfolio, underpinned by the London Olympics and the next two World Cups, is in remarkably good health - despite vigorous competition over the years from terrestrial rivals and from pay TV. And let me be clear that we welcome competition: the pay TV market has massively expanded choice, and standards of coverage are high. Plurality is good for viewers and listeners. Pay TV can hardly claim it's starved of good content by the current framework.

But looking to the future, we believe it's vital that the biggest sports events remain available to the maximum number of people in the UK. The 2012 Olympics would be diminished if they weren't available free-to-air to everybody and our whole philosophy is about making the London Games widely available whenever and wherever people want it - allowing everyone to share the experience, rather than driving revenue.

Our research confirms there are millions of people who are committed sports fans and who go to, or would pay to view, the events they're passionate about. But there are millions more we call "main eventers" - people who tune in for the big international matches or the major tournaments or the water-cooler moments like the Grand National. And many of them would be lost to sport if they had to pay a specific fee for the privilege. We want sport to expand its boundaries, not pull up the drawbridge.

So you wouldn't have had 42 million people watching the events in Beijing if they'd had to go to a pay TV channel. Neither would Wimbledon have had more than 13 million watching the climax of Federer v Nadal, and nor would the Six Nations be peak Saturday night viewing beating all other channels. Even in football, where live matches are a major driver, many more people see the Premier League on Match of the Day than live on any satellite or cable channel. It's important to recognise this isn't an argument about analogue TV against digital, and it's not a debate that becomes redundant when we're all in a digital world. The faultline is a straightforward one: free to air on one side, paying an extra fee for an event or a channel on the other.

I saw a report the other day that Sky were going to argue that rightsholders should be able to do what they wanted with their events. We differ. We value our relationships with rightsholders and the listed events legislation still requires that they receive a fair and reasonable price for their products; but we put audiences first. We want to maintain access to sport for people who don't want to pay subscriptions; and, even more crucially, we see it as a public service commitment to win over light or casual viewers to the events they come across on our mass-audience channels.

There's still a massive virtue in the UK being able to come together for the biggest sporting moments, and if we lose that we will lose an important part of our national life.


  • Comment number 1.


    Massive pat on the back to the BBC to looking after the so called 'Jewels in the Crown' of British sport. The coverage is always good, however it really is more like Jewels of minority sports (Rugby excluded - Although the standard of the 6 nations is awful when compared to the tri-nations)

    There is no FA Cup - The Champions League (they didn't even bid) - The home test matches (the 2005 ashes series gave us some of the best drama in sport for many years).

    Match of the Day is all well and good but when was the last time that the BBC showed a live top division football game - I'm in my 30s now and I cant remember.

    This is one of the reasons why the number 1 button doesn't get pressed all that often in my house and the Sky Sports one does.

  • Comment number 2.

    It is clearly good news that major sporting events are available to the widest possible audience. Whist I accept that this is not about analogue versus digital; to me it is digital that will enable the BBC to give the public the level of coverage that we – the avid spectators – want.

    I do subscribe to Sky and the thing that is always the icing on the cake of their coverage is the hours that they can dedicate to coverage and the complete flexibility to change schedules when events inevitably overrun. With the advent of digital and the ‘red button’ I trust that the BBC will show more and more of these important sporting events. I would plead though for you to somehow make it easier for the viewers to know what is going to be available via the red button, I look at the Sky listings to see what’s on but there is no hint of what additional coverage is planned.

    And finally, it might seem inconsequential that viewers have to swap channels halfway through viewing but surely the need for this is passed?

  • Comment number 3.

    Interesting that this post appears on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, a jewel now lost from the BCC.

  • Comment number 4.

    as always a fairly spurious arguament. do tennis fans only want to watch wimbledon, cricket fans only the ashes, golf fans only the open, motorsport fans only F1? with free to air that's the only choice available. as a cricket fan i want ALL tests, including other nations, and the 20-20.

    also, the days when the BBC had the best coverage are long gone. they never even used to put the score or time on screen during live play!!!

    as the man said, SS1 is the channel of choice, not BBC1

  • Comment number 5.

    How can you claim to offer the public the 'crown jewel' services when for the past decade not a single live ball of Test Match cricket has been shown live on your channel? You didn't even bother to bid for the next tv contract and even Giles Clarke, commented that you were not providing the service that the British public expect and deserve.
    Additionally, you have recently decided to show live F1. Where was your commitment to this 'sport' a decade ago? How can you possibly argue that F1 is more of a 'jewel' than cricket or live Premiership Football, which you argue has priced you out of the market?

    You may well still retain Wimbledon and the Grand National and I'm sure that given choice, the public would actually watch a better choice of coverage on another channel, if the choice was there.

  • Comment number 6.

    BBC allowing England Cricket Internationals to disappear from terrestrial screens has been a massive loss to the game.

    The fact that the BBC is willing to pay so much now for Formula One- a commercial sport, whilst continuing to neglect our national cricket team is a further insult.

    The Ashes IS a hugely captivating national event with a wonderful history, which is slowly being lost to the general public.
    Let the country get behind our national team.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can I just say what a sad joke on behalf of the world wide Rugby League community.

    To not mention the Challenge Cup just shows more proof of the contempt the BBC has for us as a sport.

    This is an insult of the highest order and I for one am fed up.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am totally disgusted that you can reel of the "crown jewels of sport" and omit the Rugby league Challenge cup.
    This event reagularly attracts capacity crowds at Wembley(Twickenham Cardiff and Scotland previously)
    As a spectacle it more than matches the six nations but as usual is ignored by the southern based BBC,why???

  • Comment number 9.

    I wonder what the choice of the public would be if they didnt have to pay for their 'free-to-air' services via the license fee & could instead use this money as they saw fit ?

    I appreciate the sums arent similar when you add in the sport. But paying about a tenner a month for a couple of channels doesnt seem to compare with a tenner for a month for a much greater choice via the basic satellite packages.

    If i had the choice i think my license fee would go towards the pay tv.

    The choice sportwise is just incomparable, I know a lot of people who would happily leave SSN on all day long. No need to mention the Prem, the cricket etc.

    The Beeb, well the best thing i can say about it is, the website is great, shame the bigger screen doesnt match.

  • Comment number 10.

    So you have managed to secure the rights to SOME sports that the government has ring fenced for you (and other free to airs)

    You have fought off "massive" competition from those financial mights as ITV and C4.

    Why don't you concentrate on improving the quality and value for money of your broadcasting.

    And please remember it is US that are paying for this wonderful service

    Yours not too happy

  • Comment number 11.

    Roger, it appears, from the responses received to date, that your self-congratulation is somewhat misplaced.

    It is the fact of the matter that the BBC does not have access to live TV coverage of the nation's principal sports. I'm not convinced it should have, given the potential costs involved, but it is remiss of you to again trumpet the hoary old crown jewels argument when you don't provide live TV coverage of either the national summer or winter sport.

    In short, accept the BBC's current remit (which can be very good but is not beyond reproach), whilst a little self-awareness would not go amiss: Sky for all their faults are the live sports broadcaster, the BBC are not.

  • Comment number 12.

    Wow, there seem to be some bitter people here!

    The BBC can't bid for everything, not everyone likes sport so they can't put it on all the time. Sky clearly have more money than them and also 4 dedicated sports channels - the BBC have 2 terrestrial channels which have to also show things that appeal to everyone.

    What's the point of bidding for football or cricket when Sky can pretty much triple whatever they offer?

  • Comment number 13.

    no mention of the open champoinship(golf)??

    have they lost coverage rights?

  • Comment number 14.

    Two quick points before more detailed replies later.

    On cricket - much of the debate has been around the fact that it was the de-listing of cricket that allowed it to move completely to pay TV. When the BBC lost TV cricket in the 1990s it went to Channel 4, so the last Ashes series was freely available. It was in 2005 that the decisive move was made and cricket went entirely to subscription channels - at a price that was well beyond any terrestrial broadcaster.

    On rugby league - apologies: it's a matter of record that I'm a fan of the sport and we hugely value our coverage of the Challenge Cup. So I'm personally looking forward to this year's tournament starting with Leeds v St Helens in April.

  • Comment number 15.

    Is the BBC honestly this blissfully unaware how behind the times they are when it comes to sports coverage?

  • Comment number 16.

    Hello Roger,

    Interesting snippet from your speech, and once again thanks for the post.

    When we see the excellent coverage that the BBC does bring to all of the sports that it covers (and I tend to think that it does lead the way) it's so frustrating that cricket on TV is not part of the portfolio.

    While the price for live rights may be way beyond terrestrial broadcasters, it would be good to know if there is more that can be done to try and get coverage of highlights, particularly for winter tours. I realise Five has the summer highlights rights for the next four or five seasons, but is there anything that can be done?

    The Ashes highlights via the red button was great news for people with Freeview but who cannot afford Sky. Will the review of 'the crown jewels' look at the fact that there was outcry when highlights of England's football qualifier in Croatia were not screened on the same night but that little has been made of the availability of England winter cricket tour highlights? Can the BBC make any representation to the panel?

    My own view is that whatever the BBC has it does better than anyone else, so it's just really frustrating when Soul Limbo is confined to the radio.

  • Comment number 17.

    The BBC didn't 'ALLOW' some of these sports to just float away. They have been priced out of the market.

    Do the maths! How much does it cost to have only terrestrial TV? How much does it cost to have Sky Sports in any guise? That's right; you pay a huge premium in order to receive some additional sports. And each time the rights are renewed, Sky ups the ante, and we pay through the nose - again - and we put up with it so we don't miss out.

    But then also check the numbers. How many subscribers are there to Sky Sports? How many people watch TV in general? There are also people who even if they wanted, can't get Sky Sports. And with the BBC (hold on, and ITV and C4 and 5!) not everyone wants loads of sport either.

    Next question, if you want bucket loads more sports on BBC, how would you anticipate funding it? Most people already moan away about the cost of the TV license.

    One little final thought though. When I lived in the US, the main 4 sports were all on non-terrestrial channels. So everyone had to pay (I'm guessing they pay a lot more now), except on a Sunday afternoon/evening, when they got /get NFL from across the country free gratis. (Although there are issues surrounding local market games where the stadium is not sold out). Why bring this up? 2 reasons. If we get this whole argument right, surely we should be able to achieve something similar? And Sky brought us Premier League football based on the US NFL model (which even includes the moniker - Monday Night Football), but it just ain't the same!

    Unfortunately money talks (even during the current economic climate) and the BBC don’t exactly have a great deal to spare!

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    what you conveniently do not mention is that most of the jewels in the crown are listed events which can only be shown on terrestrial tv e.g The World Cup, Wimbledon finals, the Grand National, the Olympic Games.

    I hardly feel it is much of a boast to say that the BBC has acquired Championship football and the Carling Cup. What about the FA Cup and the Champions League? The Premier League I acknowledge is covered well by MOTD but the only live match I think there has been recently on the BBC was AC Milan v Inter Milan. Hardly catering for a big audience.

    What about the national summer sport of cricket. Yes well done for continuing to provide radio coverage, but when were there any matches actually shown on TV?

    Finally the proposed reduction of horse racing. I am about to watch the Cheltenham Festival on a different channel. It will be a tremendous culmination of the National Hunt Season. Although the BBC now thinks that there is actually only 1 National Hunt meeting (Aintree) that matters...

    Instead it would appear that Saturdays on the BBC will be taken up by F1 qualifying laps.

    Is this really progress?

  • Comment number 20.

    Poster #16 - I don't know this for certain but I always thought that Sky kept the highlights for winter tours because not many people are able to watch these due to the times at which they are broadcast live.

    With the summer tests it is slightly different as more people would be able to catch the end of the day's play and get a recap of the day at the end of the programme.

  • Comment number 21.

    The BBC provides the best sports coverage of any broadcaster terrestrial or Satellite/Cable. However, the BBC insisting on maintaining the licence fee is tantamount to a subscription charge. I therefore object to Roger's claims that the sport is free.

    I would rather the BBC sets up a commercial sports channel instead of BBC 4 or BBC Parliament (i mean what is the point). This would as well as the normal licenece maintained BBC 1,2 and 3. It would give the BBC more spending power and maybe get the most popular sports better coverage. If the BBC was able to compete with Setanta for some of the Premier League rights, and Sky for the Ryder Cup. The portfolio for the BBC would be even better.

    The Olympics and World Cup are listed as category 1 events and therefore must be available on Terrestrial TV i fear that eventually these events will be opened up to competition and the BBC will be in trouble.

    A major overhaul needs to be carried out if the BBC is to continue to provide such a high standard of coverage.

  • Comment number 22.

    Sport in general is done well on the BBC, given the same event screened on more than one channel, i like many others will choose the BBC ahead of the competion (even if i have to turn the sound off for Motty!). Big events like wimbledon, open golf, aintree and six nations usually have excellent coverage on the BBC

    But like others I think your self congratulating prose is somewhat premature. Where are you when it comes to the 'unprotected sports' (Ashes, FA Cup, cheltenham, champions league) - nowhere.

    I don't think that BBC should be all about sports - it not only me that pays the licence fee, but as well as championing the events that you do well, you also need to think about the bread and butter sports coverage. Lets take MOTD as an example. It would be nice if you could publish a list of all the Premier League teams with the minutes that they have had highlights shown in the season, and the average placing in the running order. No prizes for guessing how it would look. I can understand that ITV and others need to fill advertising slots and that the big four teams will do that for them, but the BBC don't, and every team should have a roughly equal coverage in the season. Now don't get me started on the bias shown by the studio analysts.
    If you can't sort that out then no one will be crying when you next lose rights for MOTD.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Roger,

    Referring to post 19, I think it is brilliant that the BBC has Carling Cup and CHampionship coverage. The Champiosnhip is the best league in the world, as anyone can beat anyone, and over recent years more and more big teams have fallen into this league, making it a great spectacle. The Carling Cup is good midweek football, if not the most highly-regarded competition in the world.

    Match of the Day is as always terrific, so I therefore don't see the need for BBC to big for Premier League Football, and the FA Cup and Champions League are on ITV so thats OK.

    Just asking Roger, why don't the BBC bid for rights to Italian Football? Channel 5 had them last yearso they can't be that expensive.

    On the subject of cricket, I'd love to see highlights of both home and away England test series on the BBC, once again the rights can't be too expensive with Channel 5 currently having them. I agree it would be nice to see more domestic cricket and international test series on free-to-air, possibly on the red button as on BBC1 and 2 it would take too much time on the schedule.

    On the whole, I'm pleased with this news. the critisizm of keeping the 'crown jewels' is unfair, there would be public outcry if you had lost them!

    Keep up the good work BBC

  • Comment number 24.

    This is the worst kind of self congratulatory back slapping nonsense ive ever read. "The crown jewels" of minority sport are indeed shown on the BBC. There are literally about 10 people in the whole country who give a monkeys about F1 (not including people who only watch due to the current success of the smug one) so why splash so much cash on it?

    Obviously the BBC cant match Sky for prem football or cricket (another question, why is top flight domestic football not on the protected list?) however crowing on about how amazing your coverage is when in fact it caters for a very small percentage of sports fans interests is a touch rich.

    Rant Over- (Dont think Rupert Murdoch will be quaking in his boots cancelled subscriptions just yet either)

  • Comment number 25.

    I can't agree with the comments about the standard of the broadcasts on the BBC of late - the camerawork during the 6 Nations has been appalling this year. Far too much time is spent looking at players' faces instead of following the action from a reasonable distance. A lot of time and effort seems to have gone into 'glamourising' the coverage, but I wonder if you realise that's not what the majority of viewers want. And what about club rugby? Even the paltry 1 hour Rugby Special has disappeared intop the ether - yet ITV4 can devote over an hour to it. However, to be fair, other than the rugby, what you do you do pretty well. However, one thing I didn't see in your blog was the MotoGP; I REALLY hope it hasn't been sacrificed at the alter of the far less exciting F1.
    Some kind of world football roundup would be great - if Eurosport can afford to do it, I'm sure the Beeb could.

  • Comment number 26.

    Does the fact that there is no mention of the new Moto GP season mean that the BBC no longer have to rights to show it!!

    its an outrage that Moto GP doesnt even get a mention, its a hundred times more exciting than F1!

    More Moto GP advertising please!!!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    It goes without saying that the crown jewels list must remain intact. Sky can keep their grubby mits off until 95% of viewers subscribe to Sky Sports.

    And this isn't about what is shown on the BBC - indeed the argument for the crown jewels list is much stronger if it can be shown that the other PSB channels can contribute too.

    The only event I really want added to the A-list to guarantee live coverage is all Rugby World Cup games featuring the home nations. It is a unique event in which not only all the Home Nations are present, but also competitive too - and it's time rugby was recognised as the national sport of Wales in the same way football is in England.

    It really isn't right when a game between Austria and Switzerland in the European Football Championships must be shown but England v Wales in a Rugby World Cup Quarter Final could in theory be shown just on Sky.

    Personally I'd also add the Six Nations too now to the A-list - again recognising it as the highlight of the Welsh sporting year in the same way the FA Cup final is deemed the highlight of the English year. The Guinness Premiership Final, Magners League Final (from next year) and Heiniken Cup Final should be guaranteed highlights too.

    As far as cricket is concerned the only event which IMO has the status worthy of the A-list is The Ashes. It's the only cricket event on the same scale as the other crown jewels - and frankly nobody except the die hard cricket fans really care about the Cricket World Cup - and even those would prefer victory in The Ashes. There's been talk about putting the Twenty20 World Cup on it to guarantee some cricket coverage - but it's not about guaranteeing some coverage, it's about guaranteeing the main events - that's why it's called the Crown Jewels after all.

    As for events to be demoted - certainly the World Athletics Championships isn't as important as it was to the UK in the 90's, while as I touched upon before should every single World Cup and European Championship football game be guaranteed live FTA coverage, but apart from that, it's pretty much got the balance right.

  • Comment number 28.

    I had forgotten about the Ryder Cup!

    As a final thought, I agree with other posters that mention the licence fee. The BBC is a set of subcription channels, which I would opt out of if I could.

    I imagine that most of the budget gets swollowed up by Eastenders!

  • Comment number 29.

    I love sport, and the BBC does us proud with it's wide and varied coverage. I think it's a bit glib to say that the BBC should bid for everything. Most of the population would go nuts if the whole of BBC air time was sport.

    The red button is a great way for the BBC to run extras to sports coverage. It's used well but often we don't know what is going to be on the red button unless we watch when the announcer lets us know. Can we have some sort of listing system for this please? I know you put a lot on but surely someone can list what's on somewhere on the website?

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.


    a nice article but i have a few points

    1. Free to air? £11+ a month is surely not free. (to get sky sports that is £25 a month)

    2. from media reports ITV did not want the F1, and yet the BBC still paid more than what ITV paid.

    3. your radio coverage iof football s fantastic

    4. please stop going on about the crown jewels of sport. you have no competition for them (even more so now with the financial state that ITV are in). Anyone can win with no competition.

  • Comment number 32.

    To all the people who are in their chintz armchairs drinking their brandy while reading Wisden ; your sport of cricket is diminishing, in today's world of exciting sport irrelevant, and utterly pointless.

    Cricket does nothing to promote itself as an exciting game except sell itself off to various guises of Sky, and English cricket itself is hardly helping itself by having dictatorial-like governing bodies that serve their own interests before the will of the players.

    Most people do not want to sit around for 5 days waiting for 1 or 2 exciting seconds of action, and therefore it is, and never again, will be a popular sport to the degree you are mistakenly in belief of.

    That is why the BBC will prolong it's return until either it becomes so unwatchable it costs almost nothing, or the Government will give in to people like you and deem it a National sport and therefore a sport that MUST be on terrestrial television. If you want to sit around moping and bemoaning all day while watching 22 bored men in white overalls you are welcome to supply Sky with your cash.

  • Comment number 33.

    355gts - listings can be found by pressing blue from any of the BBC Sport digital text pages (i.e. p300).and here on the website -

    I think a lot of other people posting here are very complacent - just as they're the first to moan about the licence fee, they'd also be the first to moan if the BBC lost the big events - whether that be to Sky or ITV.

    For me sport is pretty much the only thing I watch on the BBC, and for that alone it's worth the licence fee. If it did go subscription only the BBC would be no more able to show such event than Sky does - and if it went commercial, well, there basically isn't enough money in the advertising market for the BBC to be commercial too.

  • Comment number 34.

    Could you please explain to me why there are no cricket highlights on BBC TV ?
    Surely you are not saying you can't compete with Chaneel 4 and now Channel 5 ?

  • Comment number 35.

    Whilst money clearly does talk these days, and we can't honestly expect to get back to the 1980s when BBC were showing live top division football matches, cricket etc. the one sad thing is that the Beeb lost out on the FA Cup to ITV. Whilst Setanta's coverage is adequate without exactly being revolutionary, ITV have proved once again that in the terrestrial TV stakes, they really are the poor relation when it comes to sports coverage and in particular, football coverage (Even Five do football coverage better than ITV). Audience figures for the FA Cup are significantly less this season than last, (as I seem to remember was the case when ITV had the rights to Premier League highlights a few years back when Des jumped ship) and just when the tournament was at least perhaps beginning to regain some of its credibility and kudos, due in no small part to the BBC's coverage previously.

    With regards to the Championship and Carling Cup rights, will that be the same package ITV had, i.e. just highlights, or will there be live games involved?

  • Comment number 36.

    How much competition was ther for some of the things you're crowing over?
    Who else wants to show Wimbledon or the Olympics or broadcast test cricket commentary?
    How much of a coup is the Carling Cup?
    Isn't the uncompetitive spectacle of Formula 1 on a downward spiral in terms of popularity with only a blip cause by a successful British driver?
    Why no meaningful coverage of domestic rugby union?

  • Comment number 37.

    To those of you comparing the license fee to subscription channels, remember that the BBC pays the price of not being able to accept advertising as a cost of the license fee. I've no expertise on sky's accounts, but I would imagine that advertising revenues bring in more money than the subscriptions.

    I think all things considered BBC is not doing badly right now in the fight for rights. I would personally far prefer that the FA Cup was on BBC rather than the Carling Cup (ITV Just doesn't get the tone of its FA Cup coverage right at all, and IMO that has been a big part of the cup being so low key this season). I think some form of live cricket would be good. I think the Superbowl has been a welcome addition, and that overall a more global view of sprots would not be a bad thing (for instance would it not be possible to get some coverage of an India vs Pakistan test series for instance)

  • Comment number 38.

    I would just like to say how much i feal that the bbc is missing out on, It seems to me as though that the bbc would rather pay stupid amounts of money to pre madonnas dancing than actually showing live events, that way instead of showing things like that actually show the sports. Now admittedly i am glad about the BBC showing F1, but the other main sports have never seen any cricket on BBC neither premiership, now why not actually care about what the nation wants, we do not want dancing, neither do we want constant showings of Eastenders, Just show a little more consideration to us people that have to cut down!

  • Comment number 39.

    Is there going to be a F1 season preview this year?

  • Comment number 40.

    For those of you that are saying it is an "insult" for cricket to be rated below F1 in the UK, I suggest you take a look at this ( - a British Market Research Bureau survey.

    Motorsport is the fourth favourite sport in the UK, cricket meanwhile is down the list in 7th place. Also, Motorsport is in 3rd place for the amount of very interested fans. In terms of popularity:

    1) FOOTBALL - FA Cup
    2) RUGBY - Six Nations
    3) FOOTBALL - FA Premiership
    4) TENNIS - Wimbledon
    5) FOOTBALL - National team football
    6) FOOTBALL - Champions league
    7) MOTORSPORT - Formula One

  • Comment number 41.

    BBC blowing their own trumpet, and no one knows the tune.

    This red button service should offer so much more, like during the olympics, for sports like football. (Imagine picking 1 of 10 cheap to air matches from league 1 / championship, never mind the prem)

    Also, Cricket, while time consuming for the busy schedule of carp served up every night, can also be put thru the red button.

    People shouldn't be limited by channels anymore, but simply chosing their own programming

  • Comment number 42.

    To be fair the BBC is priced out and I for one have lost out as i don't watch Sky, when i did have it at uni i was struck by the level of enthusiasm which is completely missing from BBC sport commentary. When you have the likes of Garth Crooks and Mark lawrenceson being so negative with their coverage it is not hard to see why most of the Crown jewels have been lost. Also the Beeb is obsessed with politically correct coverage over just general enjoyment. I am glad the test match highlights are back on terrestial though, although i hope they are on bbc1 or bbc 2 as i can't get 3 or 4 in the south east

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate people joining the debate.

    Some are missing the point, though. There's no problem about England internationals being on ITV or Cheltenham being on Channel 4: they're free-to-air. But we've seen the argument about cricket after it *all* went to pay TV in 2005, and there's been a big political row in Scotland about the absence of Scotland's home internationals from free channels. So what I'm arguing for is absolutely not a BBC monopoly: it's access to key sports events for the greatest possible number of people -which is via free-to-air and universally-available channels.

    The other thing I aimed to highlight was the difference between the needs of dedicated sports fans and a wider public interest in the biggest sporting moments. The fact is that Wimbledon does get audiences many multiples higher than any other tennis event; and a World Cup Final is watched by vastly more than a Premier League game. We want to preserve those moments that bring the nation together in sharing key sports events.

    But we do, of course, try to serve as many sections of the audience as possible within the constraints of finite funding. Live Championship football and Football League highlights will meet the requests of people who've asked us to reflect life beyond the Premiership; and I note the polarity of views here about F1, but most of our other blogs suggest significant support for the investment we're making. More than 10m people watched Lewis Hamilton win the World Championship, and races last year averaged around 4m - and that represents high levels of interest among the UK population.

    Finally, just to underline - early in my original post I said we welcome competition; it's good that pay TV has expanded choice; and standards of coverage are high. Plurality is a good thing. What I'd be against would be ALL major sport ending up on pay TV or an outcome that left free-to-air channels out in the cold. We believe a balanced market - which is what we generally have at the moment - serves audiences best.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Can't believe the complainers on this article. £11 per month buys the BBC channels, all the radio plus all the internet site, good value I believe.
    All those saying loads of people watch the sky sports, look at the figures, they don't match up. This F1 being unwanted / unwatched 4million average = 1 person in 16 in G.B. not bad (not me I think its quite dull).
    General standard of coverage I think is much better, my parents have sky sports but I'm not impressed, waffle, waffle and more waffle then the game, then more waffle.
    I'd love more coverage but radio does a damn good job and if you'd heard some of the world service African nations, that's entertaining!!!!

  • Comment number 47.

    Bit of a smug post, considering how on the one hand you shell out on motorsport's equivilant to paint drying, and on the other plead poverty whenever the thorny issue of rights for Scotland's World Cup qualifying is brought up.

    Oh and Rupert (post #35) - i actually thought ITV's match coverage has been better than expected, sure the tone of the coverage is the usual English tub-thumping, but the match coverage has been OK. Having said that, i think audience figures have been affected by STV's decision NOT to show any FA Cup games live.

  • Comment number 48.

    so as you've got all these great sports on the BBC - why oh why oh why don't you have a BBC Sports channel - you have an archive of sports related programmes that is second to non - and as you've just told us - a fantastic range of live sports exclusive to the BBC.

    While you may state there isn't the bandwidth on Freeview for a BBC Sports channel - maybe we could have just 1 kids channel - do we really need CBBC and CBeebies - and a couple (or is it 3) red button channels, and a Text channel.

    Roll on the switch off on analogue so that everyone has Freeview - then maybe BBC Sprots channel will be given a chance - no more BBC1 coverage switching to BBC 2 mid afternoon, come on BEEB - think about it - it's a great option - any feedback would be welcome.


  • Comment number 49.

    "I'm sure that given choice, the public would actually watch a better choice of coverage on another channel, if the choice was there."

    Number 5 - I don't agree with you there. The clearest example is when the BBC and ITV/Sky are showing the same event (world cup final and FA cup final spring to mind) the BBC has a much higher share of the audience than the other channel showing the exact same event.

    For all the arguments the BBC remains the favoured channel when there is a choice between the BBC and ANY other channel. It's just a shame that it can't afford as many sports as we would like.

  • Comment number 50.

    Other than the odd challenge cup game, you dont seem to really care about Rugby League. Is this because you dont have the rights to show it or do the BBC consider it to be a "minority sport" for us northerners on the M62 corridor?
    Its all well & good getting F1, but its also a minority sport in so far as you need to have money to either watch or take part.
    The carling cup is a "minor" trophy at best, moto GP is also ignored in your blog and cricket on BBC is non existant.
    Why do you insist on calling it free to air, when I am obliged to pay for a licence that is out dated and almost becoming unworkable.
    The BBC as a sports broadcaster is a joke.

    long live Sky.
    Quality is worth paying for, the BBC as a whole is not.

  • Comment number 51.

    "Cricket, while time consuming for the busy schedule of carp served up every night, can also be put thru the red button"

    Number 41 - the BBC don't have the rights to the cricket, so they can't just put it on the red button. The ECB decided to sell those rights to Sky for live coverage and Five for highlights, so the BBC would be in a HUGE amount of trouble if it decided to broadcast the cricket anyway!!

  • Comment number 52.

    Some people do have short memories dont they?
    In the 1990's, the BBC Sports Department was poorly mismanaged, they lost F1 to ITV, Cricket to Channel 4, didnt bid for Football from Sky...why, the Management of the department at the time didnt care what they had.
    Mr Mosey came in a few years ago and has done his best and made the BBC the top priorty, yes they should have at least bidded for Cricket Highlights but they have done their best keeping the crown jewels like:
    6 Nations
    Wimbers Tennis
    Premiership Highlights and World Cup and European Championships
    F1 has returned and the BBC have watched ITV's coverage very closely.
    Royal Ascot and Grand National.
    Yes the FA Cup and England games were taken to ITV, but the BBC is funded by the license fee, not with profits like Sky have to keep Football, Rugby and Cricket.
    (However can the BBC please bring back Grandstand so we can Sport on every Saturday as some saturdays can be empty of Sports and Grandstand was there to show anything)

  • Comment number 53.

    "On the subject of cricket, I'd love to see highlights of both home and away England test series on the BBC, once again the rights can't be too expensive with Channel 5 currently having them."

    It isn't just about money though, those highlights that the BBC has secured in recent years (the Ashes in Aus and the World Cup) have conclusively demonstrated that the BBC doesn't have the will to schedule the highlights sensibly.

    They struggled to find a decent slot in the late night schedules (match times and contracts limited forced them to show them at late night) and shunted the highlights about (prioritising just about anything else), it is impossible to imagine them finding space for the sort of prime-time highlights that the Five deal guarantees.

    Similar problems have occured with domestic rugby highlights (both codes).

    Prime time highlights of domestic tests, for the first time since early in the C4 contract are a relative coup and I wouldn't wish them away in order to get cricket back on the BBC.

  • Comment number 54.

    So who has the rights to broadcast highlights of the Ashes ? The BBC or Channel 5 ? If not the BBC then why not ?

  • Comment number 55.

    Re: BBC Sports Channel - we've kind of got that already with the multi-screen and interactive streams - and it suits BBC Sport perfectly, closing down when there is nothing to show, and offering multiple streams when there are live events.

    Even Sky Sports schedules aren't spectacular when they haven't got a live event in the schedule - indeed I guess that's why they love cricket so much as it can easily fill 8 hours during the day.

    I hate it too when people say now we've got digital sport shouldn't be shown on BBC1/2. There is no more reason for sport to be shunted to digital than there is for EastEnders to be - especially when for many like myself sport is the main reason the TV licence is worth paying.

    We've seen already that for some illogical reason ratings can often be affected just by showing events on BBC2 rather than BBC1 - shunting them out to "BBC Red Button" or a dedicated channel would only see them fall further - and play right into Sky's hands.

  • Comment number 56.

    "So who has the rights to broadcast highlights of the Ashes ? The BBC or Channel 5 ? If not the BBC then why not ?"

    As I understand it Five as (as they do with all home series at the moment).

    As to why, the BBC didn't bid and if they had it is hard to see them matching Five's ciommitment in terms of quality, scheduling or (least importantly IMHO, but Giles Clarke may disagree) cash.

  • Comment number 57.

    Mick Gledhill (Comment No.7) is spot on with how Rugby League is treated as a second class citizen at the BBC.

    After years of having Rugby Special (sic) featuring Rugby Union from places no where near where we lived shoved down our throats for years on end, the minute the Beeb lands the rights to show Super League they stick it on local transmission or have a national showing in the dead of night on BBC2.

    Still, at least it is only the Challenge Cup and we can go back to enjoying the sort of quality coverage that Sky has provided for many years for the rest of the league season.

    Given that it is a supposed 'Crown Jewels' event, it is a shame that RL hasn't gone throught the same sort of re-branding and upgrading that F1 seems to be enjoying at the moment. Maybe if it did, we wouldn't be subjected to the same old tired commentary format season after season ?

  • Comment number 58.


    Firstly i would like to say the BBC have chosen the correct games to show for the 4th round of Challenge Cup.

    However the BBC are showng a rugby league double header on a sunday afternoon to be screened on BBC 2.

    Im under the understanding that BBC 2 is a minority channel and BBC 1 takes priority and has a bigger and better viewing audience.

    One thing that the game of rugby league needs is exposure and it needs to be made more accessible to the wider audience.

    We see the six nations being advertise and rammed down our throats between programmes, will the RL have the same coverage of advertising between BBC programmes especially at peak times.

    Also im aware the the BBC makes the six nations matches available on BBC HD and on I player will RL have the same treatment as well

    I'll look forward for your answer Roger


  • Comment number 59.

    So! My previous comment was deemed to have broken the rules, despite being on-topic, containing no swearing or malicious stuff, no web links or anything else like that.


    I'll put it in a shorter form then:

    You've forgotten all about MotoGP in your talk there. Combined with the Beeb's utter inability to listen to the fans of MotoGP and their concerns for it over the last few months, the lack of even mentioning it here just confirms how little the Beeb care about the sport.

    No doubt this comment will be banned too due to the fact that it dare's to criticise the Beeb...

  • Comment number 60.

    trippynet #59, you have seven hours of coverage for your sport each race weekend in 2009. You are a pig in clover compared to fans of many sports. Count your blessings.

  • Comment number 61.

    Working backwards through some of the latest comments...

    Trippynet in #59: I didn't mention MotoGP because it's not a listed event and it's not new this year. But as I've said lots of times: we're proud of our coverage of the sport - and it gets the highest quality rating from the audience of anything we do.

    Conradander in #58: yes, the 4th round Rugby League Challenge Cup matches have a lot of promise --- Catalans v Bradford and Leeds v St Helens. But in being scheduled on BBC Two it's in common with almost all our sport on Sunday afternoons; and the 4.30 KO time for the Leeds match is a very good slot indeed.

    Admiralhanson in #57: as a rugby league fan myself I respect commitment to the game - but as you and other posters have pointed out, we no longer show Rugby Special. So the Super League show (Sunday afternoon slot across the north of England; overnight repeat on BBC Two; available on the iPlayer) is a bigger commitment to club Rugby League than we give to club Rugby Union - and we value our live Challenge Cup coverage too.

    By the way, this year sees the return of live international Rugby League to the BBC: we'll be showing England v Australia in the autumn.

    I agree with almost everything Brekkie says in #55 about a sports channel. Red button/online coverage gives us more flexibility, and it would be a shame to move big events like the Grand National or the Six Nations or The Open or The Masters from their current homes on BBC One and BBC Two.

    Finally, to hear a debate about all this between Sky and us - have a listen to Radio 4's Media Show:

  • Comment number 62.

    "is a bigger commitment to club Rugby League than we give to club Rugby Union"

    This has been achieved by degrading (and eventually losing) Rugby Union coverage, rather than any improvement in Rugby League coverage. Is that really something to gloat about?

  • Comment number 63.

    Talking of which, don't you dare let Sky get their hands on the Welsh Autumn Internationals. Keep the premium events for the BBC, and let Sky have the second tier stuff, like the England games! ;)

  • Comment number 64.

    Loving that you have F1 this year cant wait for that.
    Although I think that a Cricket bid would have also been great.

  • Comment number 65.

    The athletics blogs contain a number of complaints that last weekemd's coverage contained too much chat while action in the stadium was not covered.
    I understand that the BBC wants to provide context and a "narrative" for casual viewers, not familar with the sport.
    Would it be possible to provide red button coverage from the international feed for dedicated followers while leaving BBC2 with the interviews etc?
    And is this an idea that can be followed in other sports - as when alternative commentaries were availalbe for the Super Bowl.

  • Comment number 66.


    Thanks for the response.

    Many of the sports you've listed above are also already on the Beeb, such as MOTD, Wimbledon, Six Nations, etc. Hence it seemed disappointing to see arguably the greatest motorbike championship in the world left off your list of "Crown Jewels".

    The coverage of MotoGP on the Beeb has always been pretty disappointing, despite what you may think and say. This is evident due to the sheer number of people that previously favoured British Eurosport's coverage of the sport over the BBC's coverage - despite the commercial breaks on British Eurosport. This surely must indicate that the BBC's coverage of this sport is not well regarded by many fans.

    The BBC has indeed pulled out all the stops after securing the rights to F1 and I'm delighted that commentators such as Martin Brundle have been retained, as well as being enthusiastic about the rest of the pundit line-up for it.

    MotoGP though has spawned many comments and complaints about the existing coverage - particularly as fans such as myself will have no alternative to the BBC's coverage this year. Unfortunately, the BBC seems to have chosen not to listen to the fan's concerns and has made very few changes to try and improve the coverage's generally poor reputation amongst fans of MotoGP.

    Tie together the lack of changes to the unpopular coverage of the sport, and the fact that it was not mentioned at all in your initial blog posting and many fans still do not believe that the BBC values this sport anywhere near as highly as sports such as F1, Six Nations, Wimbledon, TMS, and many of the other sports you mentioned above.

    Sorry, but that's just the way it comes across.

  • Comment number 67.

    Roger - it's a little off topic, but knowing you, you'll respond: who made the decision to change the blog format? IMHO, it's awful. Can't read nearly as much per page without scrolling. What chance is there of reverting to something better?

  • Comment number 68.

    Trippynet in #66: the facts are the opposite of what you claim. All the independent figures show many more people watched MotoGP on the BBC than on Eurosport - much as we respected Eurosport's coverage. And it's simply impossible to get the quality ratings we do for the sport if our viewers don't like it.

    RedRedRobin #62: I never gloat, I assure you. The fact is we're spending more on Rugby Union than ever before in our new Six Nations contract, so the sport as a whole is hardly being downgraded. But there's a massive difference in audiences between the international game and the club game, whereas in Rugby League it's the clubs that get most attention.

    Thanks for the other comments. All noted.

  • Comment number 69.

    "I never gloat, I assure you."

    My apologies. But the point stands, you highlight positively (not gloat about, no never) the fact that your commitment to club Rugby League now exceeds that to club Rugby Union, however this has not been achieved by improving coverage of Rugby League (by, for example, making better use of the rights you have with national broadcasts), but by demoting and then ditching/losing club Rugby Union.

    A pretty hollow victory.

  • Comment number 70.

    66: There is a whole blog devoted to MotoGP and the BBC's plans for the new season and so I would suggest the is why Roger didn't mention it in this blog.

    I'm reading this and it would appear the BBC are being criticised yet again for LOSING rights rather than gaining any. A good example being the FA Cup/England contract which they tried all they could to retain. The Championship and Carling Cup may not be as glamorous as the FA Cup or Champions League but at least it gives them 13 live games a season if I've got the maths right.

    With the cricket, ok maybe the BBC should have at least bid for highlights during the last round of bids but to suggest they have allowed England Cricket matches to disappear is just wrong. If I remember rightly it was the ECB who went with SKY exclusively in 2005 ignoring the fantastic work C4 did.

    In terms of Rugby League, there are only 3 main competitons in Rugby League each year anyway; Sky has one, the BBC has the other and they will both share the 4 Nations. I for one can't wait for LIVE International RL on the Beeb again!

  • Comment number 71.

    JIMMYBANTAM365 - The Reason why the ECB went to Sky in 2005 is that Channel 4 was looking to pull out of the contract because they were making losses showing the Cricket.
    Again, some people have short memories overall.
    Sky offered the best deal and one that the ECB could make money from rather then keeping the Cricket on a loss making channel such as Channel 4.

  • Comment number 72.

    Re: Blogs - I for one much prefer the new layout.

    As for cricket - I don't think it's claim to be the national summer sport really holds up as much as it does, and that's not so much to do with TV coverage (or lack of it), but more to do with it being pretty relentless all year now. The summer series runs into an autumn series, into a Winter series, into another overseas series and then back in England for the Home Tests - with a few meaningless One-Day or Twenty/20 comps thrown in too. And that's not even considering things like the IPL or the English county game. And it's that relentless scheduling which makes it difficult for terrestrial TV to accommodate it.

    Re: The Crown Jewels. I think a couple of people really misunderstand what Roger is referring too when he mentions the Crown Jewels. It's not what the BBC see as their flagship sporting events, it's the list of events outlined by the Government which are of such national importance they are guaranteed live coverage on terrestrial TV.

    However much you value MotoGP or F1, they're essentially individual sports contested by a relatively small number of people - not a big event of national or international importance. I'm no motorsport fan but F1 is obviously a coup for the BBC - but I doubt I'd feel like that if in the end the cost of bringing F1 back meant the corporation losing some of it's other core sporting coverage.

    And as a non-motorsport fan a question for those of you who know better - is MotoGP really the premiere motorcycle event, or is that just now the perception as it's the only event on the BBC (and indeed terrestrial TV). A few years ago when the BBC had the rights wasn't the World Superbikes considered the premiere event?

  • Comment number 73.

    While it is good news that BBC has so much sport Why oh why are the BBC unable to provide good quality live Standard Definition pictures. I am looking at Italy v Wales on BBC1, both on Digital Terrestrial, FreeSat and FreeView. The long range pictures are very poor with fuzziness around the players typical of low bandwidth, poor compression technology. Do the BBC not care about the quality of the pictures they are providing or paying for?

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi Roger,

    Just been surfing around and apparently, Racing UK are announcing you've just renewed your Racing coverage until 2012. Is this correct?

  • Comment number 75.

    JimmyBantam365 in #74 - we're not expecting a racing announcement for a little time yet. It'll take about as long as for Bradford to win an away game again...

    Bill-Taylor in #73: I'll pass that comment on to our technical teams. One thing that is true is a match shot in HD does look much better in SD too, and at the moment Italian games are SD only.

    Brekkie and Webby (in most posts, at least) and I remain in happy agreement about many things as I get ready for the new job after Easter.

    Finally RedRedRobin in #69: what I was really referring to is that for many years Rugby League fans have highlighted what they saw as a bias in favour of club Rugby Union. Now they can't do that, some of them still claim we discriminate against Rugby League - and the facts don't bear that out.

    But our view is that, as far as highlights shows are concerned, both club Rugby League and club Rugby Union struggle when it comes to national audiences. The Super League Show being shown primarily in the north of England --- available on Sky platforms UK-wide with the additional late night UK repeat and iPlayer options --- is an appropriate level of coverage alongside our live commitments.

  • Comment number 76.

    Great news on the coverage, i'm a fan of all them sports so is great to know the Sky monopoly won't be stealing them away.

    However can I just say what an absolute disgrace Garth Crooks is to the BBC Site with his Teams of the week. All players he chooses are just players that happened to score a goal. Take this week. Lescott is in the team, let's be honest, just because he scored a goal. He was far from spectacular against an unspectacular attack. Yet Jonathon Woodgate was outstanding and avoids selection.

    Likewise in midfield where Jenas has been picked as the Right midfielder. Simply because he scored. I watched that match and whilst he was fairly good he certainly wasn't better than a certain Aaron Lennon who effectively won the game by causing havoc down the right side.

    This guy is a joke. He clearly doesn't watch much football and bases his team of the week on match reports after seeing who's scored.

  • Comment number 77.

    Once again I read in the papers today that you are to halve your coverage of racing to 14 days from next year. I find this completely unacceptable. To put this into context you will now be broadcasting more coverage of Formaula 1 practice sessions than horse racing, and yet this is the 2nd most popular spectator sport after football in this country.

    This makes a mockery of your title here that says that you want the biggest events for the largest number of people.

  • Comment number 78.


    Many thanks for getting back regarding my RL question, although you have not answered the question.

    Over the last six weeks we have seen the RBS six nations being advertised on all platforms of the BBC.

    I aknowlegde your answer that club rugby league struggles if you are going to comapare it with international rugby union.

    What i have noticed over the last few seasons, you barely advertise rugby league on BBC ONE or BBC TWO prior to the weekend of when your coverage is on.

    Surely to attract more viewewrs to the game part of the answer is to heavily advertise it at peak times, like you do with the six nations.

    Only RL fans know when the matches are on because we read various RL publications, maybe its worth yourself roger to read some of the columns of top RL journalist and you will get to know what we want.

    People who want to watch the game or want to start to make an intrest do not know what or when the matches are going to be on until they get the daily news paper and look at the tv listings.

    Also will the CC we available on BBC I player, because i will be attending the saints v leeds game, and i will miss the catalan v bradford game and also i would like to see the leeds v saints game again.

  • Comment number 79.

    Conradander in #78: it's a fair question. We give Rugby League marketing around the Challenge Cup final; and the difference with the Six Nations is partly that the latter plays right across a number of weekends including in Saturday night peak, so that tends to generate more airtime support. International Rugby Union is right in the middle of the battle with other channels. (And it does very well.)

    The good news is both Leeds v Saints and Catalans v Bradford should be on iPlayer. I'm hoping to go to Leeds myself - it should be a great game, even for a Bulls fan...

  • Comment number 80.

    Steveo77: Frankly, I would've thought that the BBC wanting to concentrate purely on the main meetings such as The Grand National, The Derby, The Arc and Royal Ascot perfectly sums up the title of this blog. These are the 'biggest events' aren't they?

  • Comment number 81.

    I know this blog is about the biggest events but I'm very dissapointed that the BBC are not showing any television coverage of the British Swimming Championships and World Trials this week.

    After the improved performance in Beijing by the swimming team I thought the BBC would be keen to show some coverage. If not daily then why not a highlights round-up for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon, BBC2 is free all afternoon.

    That said I'm looking forward to the extensive track cycling coverage next week.

  • Comment number 82.

    Roger, wheres the F1 Preview show?
    Already the BBC's F1 Coverage is already failing the viewers, ITV had a preview show, wheres the BBC's???
    (The one for TV, not the panzy ask the team online preview!)

  • Comment number 83.

    is the rumour true, that the bbc will collect the US sports coverage that five had, as they are supposedly canceling all the US coverage(end of nba and nhl season)???

  • Comment number 84.

    Hi Roger

    You do have some big events and have done very well to keep some of the events that you have.

    Just a couple of quick quetsions though

    1) Is there any truth in the reports that Sky are to target the Welsh Autumn Internationals. It was reported over the weekend.

    2) Plus on my favourite subject Horse Racing. The racing post among other are reporting that the deal has been done that will see only 14 days racing on the BBC. But that things are still in the balance, as negotiations are still in the balance with C4. The reason that the a couple of Newmarkets meetings and according to some reports that I read recently Doncasters Leger may be still offered to the BBC in addition to the 14 paid for days covered by the contract. And that is a term that has not been included before in any reports 14 paid for days of racing.

  • Comment number 85.

    I'll be fuming if the BBC loses the Welsh internationals - if that happens it really puts the F1 deal into question as that, despite it's fanbase, only benefits a small number of teams, while covering Welsh Rugby especially affects the exposure of the game from the very top right down to the grass roots.

    And it is surprising considering the comeback you're not doing an F1 preview show - you've got nothing on Sunday after all.

    Re: Swimming - don't know for sure but C4 have been covering a lot of the "British Champinships" in Olympic sports as part of it's new 4Sport strand, although usually airing them weeks after the event.

  • Comment number 86.

    Hello all

    As usual, I can't unfortunately comment on current rights issues. But for those interested in racing, here are a couple of pieces by racing experts that give a different perspective to the current campaign:

    On preview shows in general - we do many fewer than we used to do because we now have so many different ways of engaging audiences. There's lots online and on digital services; we'll be devoting extensive coverage to F1 and our other big events on sports news bulletins on TV, on radio and online; and we also work with colleagues on programmes like The One Show to maximise the impact of major sports. For instance, you may have seen Clare Balding's excellent reporting ahead of last year's Grand National - which reached far more people than a conventional preview show. Plus: there's generous build-up airtime ahead of each F1 event anyway.

    Finally, on swimming - there's been radio and sports news coverage, and our major TV swimming commitment this year will be around the World Championships in Rome. But thanks as ever for the feedback and we're reviewing how we cover all Olympic sports between now and 2012.

  • Comment number 87.

    The One show isnt a great way to showcase the biggest Sports.
    Evn if the Sport is being shown not just on TV, I find it suprising that a Preview Show, just a small 30-60 minute show to give us fans a look into the winter testing and what the teams have been doing.
    Build up to each f1 event isnt that good, itv did some brilliant preview shows, had intreviews with some of the drivers, even had Brundle look at last years rule changes and how they affected the car, he had Coulthard's Reb Bull Car.
    Not having a preview show, just shows the BBC in a bad light, if ITV can have one for s mere 45 minutes, surely Eastenders can be lopped on Sunday so us Fans can preview a tasy season of F1?

  • Comment number 88.

    Thanks for the replies.

    - If the BBC lost the welsh internationals (outside the Six Nations) it would be a disaster. With this being the last season of the EDF Energy Trophy on the BBC and the sevens coverage lost it only leaves two periods a year of rugby, the autumn internationals and the Six Nations. The BBC cannot afford to lose the welsh games as they are usually the best ones.

    - Thanks Roger for the links on the racing articles, interesting reading. I can accept a truncation in the BBC's horse racing coverage, but I hope it isn't as much as being reported. Giving up races like the Betfair Chase would be a shame.

    - On the swimming I meant to comment yesterday that I have been enjoying the excellent coverage on Five Live Sportsextra. Bob Ballard and the team have been first class as ever. Good point Brekkie I'll keep an eye out for them on C4.

    - I can't see why they would need to bother with a preview show for the F1 season, if I'm right they on air an hour before the first qualifying session and race, that is more than enough time to preview things.

  • Comment number 89.

    Dear Roger,

    I know you cannot comment... but could you take on board... are you serious about broadcasting just four days of National Hunt Racing per annum? Is the Shergar Cup (pointless and meaningless) really worth more than the Befair Cup or some of the Ascot NH meets. After all the autumn is a bit thin in terms of crown jewels so some good quality National Hunt is surely worth looking at?

    That said I'd be delighted if you could yet snatch the Guineas or St Leger from C4 as you 'do' these big occasions so well - and the last time the BBC were at Newmarket must pre-date colour television - it certainly pre-dates me!!

    I also take the point that it it is clearly ridiculous that racing pays one broadcaster to show its wares and charges another for the same purpose. Laughable.

    I believe you would have been keen to take the Cheltemham Festival back, that not being possible is there any possibility of the BBC taking a daily peak evening highlights package? Might not peak time highlights actually gain more viewers than live daytime??

  • Comment number 90.

    C4 do a damn good job with their racing coverage though, and although it may be a shame BBC are set to be covering just a handful of events over the years, I don't think it would benefit the viewer at all for the BBC to be snatching events from C4 - especially as that may no longer mean C4 finds racing viable and pull out altogether. C4 don't spend half the programme talking about hats either!

    Then we're down from nearly 100 days racing a year, free to air on terrestrial TV, to what the BBC would commit to showing, which would probably be less than 30 considering they've made it clear their policy is to go for the big show-piece events, and not the rest of the racing calendar.

  • Comment number 91.

    The BBC will never go back to the days when it covered 79 days racing or it seems it is not interested in Rugby Union Highlights from the Premiership.

    On racing the facts are the people behind the BBC racing coverage are concerned about the BBC cutbacks sunset+Vine chairman Jeff Foulser on the BBC racing cull. He said: "The BBC seems to be making a decision about racing. We just have to go along with it, but it is clearly disappointing. As for delivering the Grand National, any production is better when people are working on the sport regularly. The last thing you want to have to do is rehearse live."

    And he is not the only well respected figure to be concerend about the BBC and it attitude Jonathon Martin, who served as BBC head of sport for 17 years through the 1980s and 1990s has described the intended cuts as "astonishing", "indefensible" and "nothing short of a disgrace". He also had this to say about how the lack of coverage could affect the quality of coverage. (talking specifically about the lack of jump racing that will feature on the BBC). "The Grand National is a difficult event to cover therefore, it is astonishing that in future the cameramen and production team will be asked to come out of a garage cold, with only Thursday's and Friday's Aintree racing as preparation for what has been one of the great days of BBC television for nearly 50 years. It would be a miracle if the production team achieve the standards that the BBC has set."
    I do accept that Racing has shot it self in the foot by asking one broadcaster to pay for racing and effectivley pays another broadcaster to cover the sport.
    As for Rugby the BBC coverage of the Six Nations is good, but has been very pro english. In Jim Niely they have a great commentator who could have been used by the BBC on some of Irelands games. I know his commentary was on the Red Button ( ALTHOUGH NOT ALWAYS AS THE BBC HAD THE WRONG FEED OR CUT OFF TO A MUSIC SHOW) But as far as highlights go to the Premiership they are not interested, and told after the last effort. In recent years, not only was it shunted around the schedules. The format wasted the talents of John Inverdale and Brian Moore. It was far removed from its glory days, it did not tell the story of the season because it started when the season was half way through. I would love to see you do this with match of the day. And there was so little rugby in the show you may well have called “John and Brian enjoy a pint special” it was rubbish. That is why people do not watch. I could have done better with a camcorder. It should have been more like the Super League show.

  • Comment number 92.

    I wouldn't moan now about the BBC not being bothered about the Premiership Rugby highlights - ITV4 have done a damn good job this year covering them and I hope they extend their commitment. Back to the topic of "Crown Jewels" though and I think the Premiership Final should now be added to at least the B-list to guarantee highlights.

  • Comment number 93.

    2 points on horse racing I would make based on the recently added posts:

    1) Could the BBC offer peak time highlights of the Cheltenham Festival?
    Bearing in mind BBC2 will show a 30 minute preview show the night before the Grand National, a similar 30 minute programme each night of the festival would I am sure attract a suitable number of viewers (Channel 4 apparently had 2 million people watching a 5 minute review on Cheltenham Gold Cup day)
    2) picking up the excellent point made by the previous BBC Head of Sport, Jonathan Martin it will certainly be very difficult to maintain the high standards of coverage of events such as the Grand National when you will have virtually no other coverage of National Hunt Racing to practice on.

    I appreciate though that the deal has been done, and we will all have to make do with events such as the Boat Race...

  • Comment number 94.

    Interesting point that about the standard of coverage for the Grand National, I hadn't thought about it like that.

    And I would vote for Jim Neilly to be used on the network coverage of some of the Ireland games in the Six Nations.

  • Comment number 95.


    With regards to previewing upcoming sporting events in other output such as the One Show could it be advertised more widely that it would be included in shows like that. Last year I was expecting to see in the listings a Friday night Grand National Preview as we have for aslong as I can remember. It wasn't there so I assumed the BBC had just cut any sort of preview. Reading one of your responses to this blog you mentioned that Claire Balding did various reports on the National in the one show which may well have made it watched by a wider audience but it meant it was totally missed by someone like me who whilst being interested in the Grand National never watches the One Show.

  • Comment number 96.

    One question you might be able to answer. Do the BBC have the rights for the Women's Euro 2009 football championships taking place this August?

    The coverage of the last two major championships in women's football has been excellent and I hope we will be able to follow England on the BBC again.

  • Comment number 97.

    Hi Roger,

    im sorry to say that Five has now officially dropped MLB from scheduling and I was wondering if you or the BBC sport team know if anyone will pick the feed for MLB, but more importantly as most people agree that the superbowl coverage is gaining momentum, Will the BBC keep their eyes open later on in the summer for picking up the Feeds if Five also let NFL drop from their schedule?

  • Comment number 98.

    Viewers can now submit their thoughts on the Government website:

    Click the Online Consulation Link at the bottom to submit your views online.

  • Comment number 99.

    Roger, with possibly the exception of the Olympics (and uniquely the 2012 event) I could not disagree with you more. Why should watching ANY sporting event be free? When a sport is popular (such as football and rugby) that is what attracts the investments from independant broadcasters who have turned our leagues into 'market leaders'. Do you think that would have happened if BBC was still providing the main backing for our premier leagues? Why don't you apply your 'argument' to the arts? Wouldn't it be nice (and fair) if everyone could have the opportunity to watch the opera at Covent Garden? Well they can't becuase not everyone can afford it - I can't! But I can just about afford Sky TV, but only because I chose to spend it on that rather than cigarettes or beer or whatever else - its a question of choice. There is no merit whasover to your argument. If you followed your logic through, quality sport would in this country would die.


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