BBC Sport: is it all balls?
Once upon a time Motor Sport was consulted by the BBC — the conference included a sports-producer and the top tennis commentator — as to how motor racing could be presented on the air.
Since then Formula One and other classes of racing have been a much-appreciated part of television broadcasts. BBC coverage not only entertains the viewers, but enables motoring enthusiasts to get a good impression of a race before consulting their favourite magazine for the full facts.
Alas, the standard of BBC race-reporting has recently fallen. It is now all balls — football, cricket, tennis, snooker, golf, rugby, volleyball, hockey or whatever — seemingly at the expense of sport on wheels. Advertised viewing times for the latter are changed to accommodate extended snooker or golf matches.
Ball games are accorded full-match coverage, frequent play-backs, interviews with managers and players, and repeat programmes. In contrast, motor racing tends to get poor visuals (not necessarily the BBC’s fault), truncated races and Murray Walker’s commentaries postponed until nearly midnight.
Worse still was the absolutely astonishing non-coverage of this year’s Le Mans 24-Hour Race, and Jaguar domination thereof — this in spite of published viewing times and the tremendous interest which Jaguar’s participation caused.
The BBC owes tens of thousands of licence holders an explanation as to why it was not prepared to spend, we understand, a mere £1000 or less on televising this important race and the British victory. If such an explanation is not forthcoming, and quickly, the conclusion must be that the BBC now considers other sports more important than motor racing — all balls, in fact!