ITV’s FA Cup Disgrace


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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7 Responses

  1. dotmund says:

    ITV have got form for this. They threw to an ad break in the last 3 laps of the 2005 San Marino GP, with Michael Schumacher climbing all over the back of Fernando Alonso. Mitigating circumstances can easily be found, of course, but it is unavoidable to have to criticise the director at the time for delaying on of the channel’s (contractually stipulated) five commercial breaks because Jenson Button had inherited the lead during the last round of pit stops. No-one in their right mind believed Button was about to win the race except, possibly, the man in charge of throwing to the commercials.

    However, a Grand Prix motor race and a football match are different things. Fundamentally because of the set parameters of time. Quite what ITV were expecting is something of a mystery to me, because this boob is absolutely unforgivable.

    ITV’s coverage of sporting events is not something I want to turn my nose up at. They broadcast a number of things which would otherwise disappear from terrestrial broadcasts for good. They are also starting to show signs that they realise what a treasure trove their investment in regional sport coverage over the last 30 years represents as an archive. However, I can’t help but feel that, if you put their coverage of a sport and the BBC’s next to one another, it just seems a bit substandard. But people will be much more willing to indulge this if the channel can avoid giving themselves sticks with which people can beat their back.

  2. If BBC’s coverage is smug, at least it is competent, and most importantly, you get to see all the goals. And I for one would gladly sit through Alan Hanson if it meant not seeing any adverts for an hour and a half.

  3. Junkin says:

    It is not at all too soon to work out what happened to cause this commercial break to have occoured. I have worked in transmission suite in various different companies and have used the same system that Technicolour use. This System is called Pharos. It is a very good system and is probably the best at what it does. It is obvious what happened:-

    The error was a human error. The Pharos automation system has a manual override to allow the transmission controller to have total control over what is being transmitted. This would have had to have been used in this situation as the game went into extra time. However, it was obvious that the Transmission controller forgot to turn this off and Pharos decided to play the comercial break that would have occoured if the game was to end at 90 minutes. A transmission controller works 12 hours shifts on alternating day and night patterns. He was probably knackered!

    You can see how the transmission controller was trying to recover. He was pressing the “next” button in Pharos to quickly get through the playlist so that it went back to the football in a mad panic. Because Pharos pulls video and audio material from a server it has to cue up the next item and you cannot just simply skip like you skip songs on a cd or ipod. It takes a few seconds to get from each item to the next as the system thinks. Thus the 5-10 second bursts of each commercial.

    I don’t agree with how cost cutting is the ultimate cause. Automated transimission systems is the only way to go to be able to cope with the modern stresses of TV these days. And to behonest it isn’t really an element of cost cutting. You still need the same amount of staff to run it and is just as expencive to run. This might not have happened if an automated system was not in place. But if this was the case there would be plenty of other mistakes in all 24hours of the day. If you think back to 10 years ago there were plenty of moments where there were technical drop outs. Thats why the girl playing noughts and crosses with a clown is so iconic. Probably a good trade off if you ask me…..

  4. Allan says:

    Apart from pointing out that “the whole nation” did not switch to an ad-break, as STV have decided not to show ANY of the FA Cup, STV were showing Foyles War last night…

    ITV England’s coverage has been better than expected, considering that their coverage of sport, full stop, has been ropey for the best part of the last decade and a half. Im sure that at least some of the contributors to the BBC’s “have your say” site who derided ITV getting their hands on the FA Cup again as the end of civilisation, must be ready for a rethink

    Having said that, they should leave the whole “FA Cup, the nation’s favourite football competition” stuff to the BBC, bit patronising that.

  5. Junkin wrong says:

    For the record – I used to work at Technicolor but don’t any longer so I have no axe to grind here.

    The London network operations centre for ITV has no Pharos automation for the record. So you might want to think about killing this post. Have you ever heard the expression “defamation”.

    The functional description of the issue as the automation running off to the break because of human error is almost certainly correct.

    However, the senior officer for TNS responsible for technology and operations decisions is the culprit who needs to be hung out to dry!!!! Ooooo he is from Down Under BTW.

  6. admin says:

    Well, thank you for clearing that up. If you’d like to follow up what part of this:

    “What seems to have happened is that following a malfunction of some sort (possibly a failure to over-ride a pre-programmed advertisement break, possibly someone hitting a wrong button, possibly a computer failure, we don’t know)”

    amounts to “defamation”, considering that you say yourself that “The functional description of the issue as the automation running off to the break because of human error is almost certainly correct”, I’d be glad to consider it.

    I did point out several times in the above piece that it was speculation. Ultimately, and I thought that I made this pretty clear, the ultimate responsibility for this lies with ITV for outsourcing, just as it would have laid with ITV had they not outsourced it and it had been the result of an error made by ITV member of staff.

  7. Big Cheese says:

    “Automated transimission systems is the only way to go to be able to cope with the modern stresses of TV these days”
    Ah but I too have worked in ITV – and in this very field – for many years and can say there wouldn’t be half the “stresses” this writer mentions if they had not scrapped manual operations at each ITV region.

    I am writing this on 13 June 2010 – yes, just after another identical and almighty cock up during a major football match. Funny how things come round again isn’t it?

    Quite clearly computerised systems cannot beat humans. I am now waiting for the same to happen during the Queen’s Christmas Speech though now they’ve abolished internment in the Tower and grisly punishments I doubt if it too will come to much.

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