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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

OPEN LETTER TO BARBARA SLATER, DIRECTOR BBC SPORT: GOLF OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS FULL COVERAGE DECAMPS TO SKY SUBSCRIPTION TV ONE YEAR EARLY - NEXT YEAR!


Accepting this is more 'media' than 'aviation'  - but the excuse is an item of supreme interest in aviation and maritime circles, as Golf is the prime relaxation sport for these industries... Not good news though, so best be sitting down.... 

BBC coverage of The Open Championship


The BBC is announcing today that the R&A has agreed with our proposal to amend the broadcast arrangements for The Open Championship one year earlier than planned. From 2016 rather than 2017, the BBC’s coverage of The Open will take the form of extended peak time TV highlights, live radio and enhanced digital rights.

So why has the BBC taken this step and what does it mean for golf fans?

Much has been written and spoken recently about the BBC’s finances and its offering to licence fee payers. The funding agreement announced in the Chancellor’s July budget and the overview of the BBC’s future finances outlined in the Charter Review proposals make it clear that the BBC is faced with some challenging financial savings targets. Sport on the BBC is not immune to those pressures and they are compounded by the highly inflationary nature of the rights market.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that the BBC targets its resources to ensure maximum choice and value for money for licence fee payers. We have already made long term commitments to a wide range of major sporting events, including the Wimbledon Championships to 2020, the next two Football World Cups, Match of the Day to 2019, 6 Nations to 2021 and the next three Olympic Games.

So following the announcement that Sky had been awarded the live TV rights to The Open and in light of financial developments since, the choice to amend the current contract from next year was a pragmatic one. We know that many fans are unhappy with the loss of rights and in an ideal world the BBC would still be the home of live coverage of The Open.

A comprehensive two-hour highlights TV programme - a format which has already proven successful during the Ryder Cup - in a prime-time slot over four days will allow us to continue to bring all the best action and key moments from The Open to free-to-air viewers.

With the live radio coverage unaffected and scope to provide something fresh and new on our mobile services, we are confident that our overall audience offering will remain a compelling one.

The BBC and The R&A have operated a successful partnership for more than 60 years and that is set to continue well into the next decade as we bring the Open Golf Championship to the widest possible audience.

Barbara Slater is Director, BBC Sport

Julian Bray responds...

Dear Barbara,

Re: BBC Open Golf

Leaving aside the spin, it now means that for many households, unable to afford subscription TV, its the end of following live, and as it happens, Golf.

Possibly disenfranchising up and coming generations, the current millennials hooked on tablets, video screens, and other non active pastimes, The last Olympics failed to energise mass participation in Sport. Now with Golf off free-to-air screens, there is NO incentive for them to discover or be drawn into the game.  

The custodians of Golf, seemingly think it is now clearly for old rich people. However the sports sponsors  and sports marketing people who exist to get BBC free-to-air on screen shots of their brands and logos will now find their audiences squeezed and Golf sponsorship at a stroke highly ineffective and that too will wither on the vine.

Player sponsorships will also be capped as the champions no longer command extensive free-to-air coverage, so will training and support packages for up and coming future champions. 

If the promised highlights shows are anything like the current BBC F1 low production value offering then expect inappropriate loud head banging music, overly extended graphics packages, archive slow-mo footage and meaningless disjointed shots, that show endless balls dropping into holes and little else.

No more leisurely detailed explainers of difficult terrain, and key holes, but pooled TV images, some cheap spotty presenters, possibly with Salford accents and limited vocabulary, fresh out of 'meeja' school, waving arms around like windmills, shouting: "Check out dis swing man"  and endless walk by shots or hapless 'spotty' placed BCU centre frame blocking out what we all want to see, the lush fairways behind his/her head.

Clearly if the BBC had canned the whole Olympics overload, once every four years, moneyfest and reduced that to a highlights experience,there would be more than enough money in the shrunken BBC pot to fund all our native home grown sports. 

Clearly as the current slate of retired sports pensioners paid eyewatering fees but seemingly unable to boost viewing figures will also be taking a a substantial cut  in their 'wages' ? Probably not, some may think I'm being hard on you Barbara but for heavens sake, fight a bit more for the shrunken pot. Don't lose any more to the shrunken audience of Sky and BT ...

Yours in sorrow and truly gutted...


Julian Bray






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