Broadcast News

Like most of us, for me, last night was a first opportunity to sample the delights of Setanta Sports. The newest entrants into the British sports broadcasting landscape have aggressively asserted themselves in the marketplace, having purchased FA Cup, Premier League, Conference and England away match television rights over the last couple of years or so. This aggressiveness has extended itself with the way in which one subscribes to their channel. There is no need for an annual subscription (all you need is a digital box with a card slot), and they charge just £12.99 per month – considerably cheaper than their rivals, Sky Sports. The opportunity to view them last night came about as the result of a dispute between Setanta and the BBC over highlights rights. It is a convention of British sports broadcasting that, when live rights are sold to a subscription only service, a highlights package will be sold to a terrestrial broadcaster. In the case of England’s away matches, however, something of a free-for-all has come to pass and, on this occasion, Setanta pushed the envelope too far. The BBC offered £250,000 for the rights to the match. Setanta refused their offer and, for a while, it looked as if the match would only be available in any form if you were a subscriber of theirs. On the surface, this was great news for...

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