Sky’s monopoly of sport should be stopped….

Whether you happen to love or loathe the actual sport, the news that the BBC will broadcast just half of next years Formula 1 season, with the rest going to Sky is another blow for sports fans who are not willing (or able) to shell out for a subscription service. What is more, it shows how sport is in danger of becoming a somewhat exclusive preserve of those that can afford access to it. It therefore doesn’t really matter if you think F1 is ‘boring’ or not; there is a wider principal at stake.

Sports essentially vanish once they make the move from terrestrial to pay-tv for millions of fans and their capacity to attract new ones is restricted. Despite it’s many failings, you also cannot but help but feel sorry for the BBC, who are not competing on a level playing field with Sky either financially or politically. I have often said that the BBC shows bias towards government of the day which it does but on one level you can hardly blame it for trying given the numerous ties that have existed between News Corp and both Labour and the Conservatives in power.

The BBC justifies its surrender on financial grounds;

The BBC’s director of sport, Barbara Slater, would only say that the savings were “genuinely significant”, but it is understood that the corporation is saving at least £25m less a year.

Although the licence fee freeze is partially understandable given the pressure households are already under it does further tie the BBC’s hands. A change to a mutual model of ownership for the BBC would probably see people willing to invest more in their broadcaster (in return for greater control) and therefore go a long-way to levelling the playing field. As things stand its just another thing that is being asset-stripped for the benefit of those this government is close too. Sport’s should furthermore be ring fenced and stopped from becoming  profit-making vehicles for companies such as Sky; regardless of how entertaining you find them, they are a part of our cultural fabric and therefore should not be for sale.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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2 responses to “Sky’s monopoly of sport should be stopped….”

  1. Scott says :

    I agree that action needs to be taken over the monopoly that Sky has developed on sports broadcasting in the UK. But I feel more frustration than sorrow with regards to the BBC’s position in all of this. There was an offer from Channel 4 on the table. If the BBC had acted in the public interest – it is a public service broadcaster, after all – and pulled out of talks completely, then Ecclestone would have had no choice but to accept Channel 4’s lower offer to cover the entire season. But by agreeing to share the coverage with Sky, the BBC allowed Ecclestone to satisy the teams by providing some free-to-air coverage.

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  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @Scott,

    Thanks for the comment I didn’t know about the Channel 4 bid, I can see your point of view from the standpoint of wanting to keep it on a non-pay station (though I would question whether C4 could provide quality coverage). One solution might be for non-pay TV stations to pool their resources in regards to sports coverage and construct a sports channel together.

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