Thoughts on BBC Sport Coverage (potential axing of)

Reports circulating the news today suggest that “one of the BBC’s major sports events could be axed in an effort to save the pennies.

I posted back in March when the previous round of BBC speculation suggested that Formula One was for the chop, and since then I’ve had some time to think what the BBC should do (in my opinion) to keep great broadcasting and save pennies.

So- here is my manifesto for cost savings.

1. Is there a need for two people to do the job one can do adequately? Cost saving doesn’t just have to be about axing things. The BBC should review their structure- is there too many people on one job (for example, is it necessary to have four website editors- could three do the job, or could that role be incorporated into the job of other employees).

2. Have a lean, mean mindset. Don’t get me wrong, but I’m a huge fan of BBC. However, ridiculous amounts are spent on some promotional events, such as here in Cornwall for the Royal Cornwall Show. Is it entirely necessary to have a huge marquee full of entertainment during the day for three days with entertainment including the odd singer, science show and magical illusion? What about a tie-up with a commercial entertainments company where they pay for some of the costs, and share the entertainments bill with the BBC? That way, less money spent for the same product. (I must stress this is not a barb at the wonderful people at Radio Cornwall, who do a great job. It’s a countrywide problem, but living in Cornwall meant its the one that relates to me)

3. Focus on events of a major sporting interest. Is there any need to have sports just on the red channel when other sports are on BBC1? For example, one of the BBC’s programme highlights is Wimbledon. But is there any need to also show tennis events such as that at Queens? Surely Wimbledon should be prioritized as the grandee event?

In addition, with the greatest respect to football supporters, is there really any need to have a Premier League preview show (“Football Focus”) and a score service with reporters at every game? No other sport has preview shows or such extensive coverage, yet BBC doesn’t have the right to show Premier League games live. Maybe a cheaper option while retaining the service is to make a preview show to be broadcast via the internet on demand, such as the BBC did for Formula One before the start of the season. Also- there is excessive build up before a FA Cup final game. I can’t remember how long it was this season but I distinctly remember in the no so distant past it was THREE HOURS buildup.

4. Streamline Management- Is it really necessary that there’s a manager for pretty much every aspect? For example, why don’t neighbouring counties share a Managing Editor for BBC Local Radio? Why does every channel need a Controller- why can’t BBC 1 and 3 share controllers, likewise BBC 2 and 4? Instead of a head for every sport, why not have the Producers (such as Mark Wilkin for Formula One) reporting to a single head of BBC Sport?

5. What provides better value for money? I call on quotas regarding the amount of work the BBC has to give to independent producers to be scrapped. They should then allow the BBC to decide for each individual programme if it is cheaper and better to have it produced in house, or externally. For example, USP content produce Five Live F1. And do an excellent job. There’s an example of what I mean.

6. Is…there…REALLY so much need for Reality TV?! BBC really should stay away from reality television. Reality TV on ITV works because the adverts and premium line phone numbers mean the show pays for itself. The BBC don’t have the luxury of adverts and really should stop stuff like “so you think you can dance” and just stick to their old warhorse “Strictly Come Dancing”.

7. Get rid of Don’t Scare the Hare. A frankly awful waste of money and TV show.

Any other ideas?


Will the BBC Axe F1?

So the Guardian have today added to the list of things the BBC allegedly want to cut to save money- this time they suggest BBC F1 as one of the cuts.

So here’s my analysis of it.

BBC F1 returned to the BBC for the 2009 season, amid much publicity and hype. To the BBC it was the return of the “jewel” they lost to ITV in 1996, to the viewers it was “Hooray- F1 without adverts!”

BBC’s coverage has been much praised- especially the dynamic of the pundits David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan as well as the Presentation of Jake Humphrey, who has proved to be a revelation in the role. On top of that effective use has been made of their online and interactive platforms, and their crossovers with Five Live for the practise sessions have been much enjoyed.

A recent BBC Trust review of Sports acquisitions was glowing in its praise for Formula One, stating that it “exceeded” value in its cost per viewer.

So everything is rosy. Please bear in mind that at present this is pure speculation- the BBC have been silent on this issue and at present, rightly so. Newspapers will do anything to fill column space.

So what would happen if the BBC wants to axe F1? I can’t see ITV wanting it back, given they’ve made huge cutbacks themselves and it isn’t something that feature annoying bints or Ant and Dec. Channel 4 are too busy repeating Friends and probably wouldn’t have the budget, likewise Channel 5.

What about Sky? No chance. Who remembers F1 Digital back in the early part of last decade? Where you pay a subscription to watch each race and get a few extra cool features, one of which was Ben Edwards (now the ITV BTCC commentator). It failed spectacularly and given we’re in a era of budget cuts, I cant see broadcasting it on Sky Sports working. I don’t think F1 sponsors would enjoy the reduced exposure either.

So one of two things are going to happen- either the source is telling porkies, or Bernie’s going to have to make some serious concessions.

And as a last thought- what part of the BBC hasnt been speculated for axing bar Top Gear? We’ve had BBC3, BBC 6 Music, BBC Asian Network, BBC Local Radio to name a few….