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ThE MaStEr

Des Lynam fears for future of BBC Sport


Monday, October 11 2010,

Des LynamBroadcastingVeteran broadcaster Des Lynam has expressed concern for the future of sport at the BBC after the corporation recently lost its exclusivity on a number of major events.

Writing in a comment piece in The Daily Telegraph, Lynam said that the golden rule of TV sport is that "the rights contract comes first, everything else spins off it".

Lynam - who started his TV career at the BBC presenting shows such as Grandstand, Match Of The Day and Sportsnight, before joining ITV in 1999 - said that the BBC has always had to "defend its range of sports from predators, whether it was ITV cherry-picking certain events or Sky showering them with bucket loads of money".

Last month, Sky agreed a deal with the Augusta National Golf Club to join the BBC as an official UK broadcast partner for the Masters from next year. The pay-TV broadcaster will air all four days of the tournament, with the corporation covering the final two.

"Sky will get clobbered on audience figures and quality of commentary when it goes up against the BBC on the last two days of the event, but it's the thin end of the wedge and I wouldn't mind betting the BBC's days are numbered at Augusta," said Lynam.

Earlier in the month, Channel 4 secured broadcast rights to the IAAF World Athletics Championships, breaking the BBC's 27-year hold on the event.

Lynam said that the BBC could have avoided the "big loss" as the "money wasted on the ridiculous move of the sports department to Manchester [BBC North at Salford Quays] would have paid the rights fees many times over".

Despite acknowledging that the BBC still holds a range of top sports rights, including the Olympics, Wimbledon and Formula One, Lynam noted that the standard of production and commentary in TV sport is "honed by frequency".

"Once the bedrock of the BBC's summer of sport, cricket now plays no part at all in its portfolio; it didn't even bid for the highlights of this winter's Ashes series," said Lynam.

"Of course the BBC doesn't just have to compete in the market place for sports rights but within the organisation itself for the resources to be competitive.

"I promise you, it's like the Ministry of Defence at the Treasury and you have to understand that those frocks in Strictly Come Dancing and offices in Salford Quays don't come cheap


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