Saturday, September 27, 2008

Politicians should stay out of sport

Yes, I know, they should stay out of our lives, period. But this is a subject that really winds me up.

Free-to-air TV sport reconsidered

The list of sporting events reserved for free-to-air television is to be reviewed, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said.

He told a Royal Television Society conference in London it was time to look at whether the right events were protected to serve the public interest.
The real question isn't that the right events are protected its why should any be protected. Its just rent seeking by the free to air channels who want the best bits without paying true market value or want us to pay for them on top of the BBC poll tax.
"It is because I believe in television's social role - its power to include and involve - that I continue to believe resolutely in the principle of a protected list of sporting events set by the government," he said.
What social role? The only one I can think of its part or the government's "loren orda" campaign to keep the prols off the street and maybe there wont be as many many muggings.

So why bring this up now? Well, there are 2 sports that seem to have got the BBC in particular wound up, test matches and England football.

In the case of the test matches Sky bid and won the rights. As part of the deal they have to allow highlights on free to air and we get about 45mins. However Jonathon Agnew has been (mis)using his position to slag off Sky and complain about live cricket not being on BBC. Forgetting that Sky gives us full uninterrupted play, something the BBC refuses to do, all of England's away games, 2 hours of replay and coverage of the domestic game.

But the killer is that that next year we have the Austrialians here for the Ashes tests. These are propbably the most attractive matches in cricket and its likely that next year there will be a real stink with the Govt getting it the neck because we can't all watch it "for free". Just think of that, politicians being unpopular? And we know what they do to avert that don't we? Yes, they dip in to our pockets as readers Burning Our Money will testify.

What people forget is that the BBC didn't even bid for the rights
The England and Wales Cricket board has attacked the BBC for failing to make any formal bid in the latest TV rights negotiations, after BSkyB retained all England home Test matches as part of a £300m deal that keeps live games off free-to-air TV until at least 2013.
So who will pay the ECB £300m to give the cricket to the BBC? yes, you and me. And then will everyone be happy for all BBC2's daytime schdule to be given over to test cricket 8 hours a day? I doubt it.

As to the football, this has blown up because not even the highlights of the Croatia Vs England match were on free to air TV. This wouldn't normally matter because England have been so poor that only masochists have bothered to watch, but on this occaision England somehow managed to win and there was a real storm.

So what can you do about this Andy? Maybe you missed the bit about this match being in Croatia and therefore it is up to Croatia's FA to sell their right to who the hell they like? Or maybe you have all become so arrogant you think you can steal the property rights of foreign companies as well as those of this this country?

Because that's what the list really means, by deciding which sports cannot sell their TV rights for what they are worth on the open market you are stealing them and giving them to someone who doesn't deserve them.

PS yes I am a sports fan and would love them all to be on free to air, I just don't think you, dear reader, should pay for my pleasures.

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