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The BBC …And All Who Sail In Her

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Rally Racing

The BBC …And All Who Sail In Her

Geoff Maxted
January 12, 2014

WRC Rally
Some readers will already know that a couple of years ago I kicked BT unceremoniously out of the house, vowing that they would never return. That company also know that any employee who knowing approaches my front door will be frazzled by death rays.

Despite this chastisement they have persisted with their so-called BT Sport channels and have been chucking millions of their customers pounds in a concerted effort to big it up to the viewers. Certainly football is hugely popular but it is not as popular as, say, fishing, for example. There are more people not interested in soccer than there are, who are. Presumably on the basis that they could do with more subscribers they have now poached Moto GP from the BBC. One more sport lost. What’s next? Wimbledon?

As everyone is aware, the BBC has cravenly given up trying to compete and is instead spending your licence fee on such unedifying programmes as ‘Reflex’, it’s a new and stupendously stupid attempt at a game show for Saturday night. Knowing this article was brewing I watched for five minutes before I asked Mrs DriveWrite to shoot me. Worryingly, she actually thought about it.

The point is this: How much money did this programme cost? They have already attempted to fill this early evening TV slot with similar dross. There was, the lamentable ‘That Puppet Game Show’, the horror that was ‘I Love My Country’ and the truly awful ‘Don’t Scare The Hare’ all of which have been rightly binned. Many years ago there was always a popular sports feature of one sort or another for Saturday afternoons.

Now - and this may cause some howls of protest which I accept - snooker and darts are great games but they have never been ‘sports’. I have never known lager to have any isotonic or re-hydration properties, despite copious personal testing. I have played and still play a mean game of both but never once have I been asked to have anything other than a ‘game’ of darts or a ‘game’ of snooker. Both of these otherwise excellent pursuits are only ‘sports’ because a TV executive said they were.

Both games are easy and cheap to televise as they are both played indoors in front of static cameras. None of that expensive dealing with foreigners or weather-proof OB set-ups or massively expensive broadcast rights fees. It is so much simpler to just call them ‘sports’ and flood the TV with them.

The BBC believe that the only form of motorsport anyone wants to see is F1. Even diehard fans are saying that this top echelon of motor racing is becoming increasingly boring but the good old Beeb persists even if they have given up on getting the full rights. They were seemingly unaware that Wales held a brilliant round of the World Rally Championship last year that produced a nail-biting finish in front of tens of thousands of fans.

The latest news - with the Monte Carlo Rally this week - is that ITV4 will show WRC highlights (last year it was for one hour in the week following the event) and there’s a rumour that Motors TV will show daily highlights but the real tragedy is that guess who has picked up the live rights - that’s right BT.

Of course, you don’t have to get BT Sport in, you can watch it for free on Sky, providing of course you can afford Sky’s ever increasingly sports channel fees and therein lies the problem. Certainly there are plenty of folk who can afford to stump up for sports channels but equally there are many sports fans who can’t spare the cash to further line Rupert Murdoch’s pockets.

Our national broadcaster is letting the side down. It’s efforts to become populist have failed. We have all witnessed the criminal waste of viewers licence fee money on political in-fighting and bloated salaries. The BBC has become like a big dated, decrepit ocean liner that should be heading for the dismantling yard. It should shape up or ship out completely.

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