Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Three Lions and the other sixty million.

I am glad that it seems I am not the only one who is outraged by the news that England's next match against the Ukraine is going to be broadcast solely online.

For me, the national football team has always been a sure-fire medium to bring the country together. It's almost an unspoken rule; men of all backgrounds huddle in front of televisions in front rooms, pubs, even cinemas in order to catch the action. Creeds, colours and classes all put aside for 90 minutes of action where everybody's objective are the same: England + Victory = Success. The ambiance created during a major tournament is fantastic; an equal measure of blind optimism and nervous anxiety, which engulfs all but the most ardent foe and brings out a sense of incalculable jingoism.

I understand that this predicament is down to the collapse of Setanta. They 'had' the rights to broadcast the game in England, but since their demise, the rights are available to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian FA (who are selling the rights to the game) have refused to budge on the original price agreed , despite the lesser emphasis on the outcome of the game over here since England qualified last month. So Sky, BBC and ITV amongst otherwise have decided that they aren't interested at the price and so Setanta will broadcast via Pay per View directly on their website.

Granted, this is a major step in the mix of mainstream broadcasting and technology, and one that has caught the public attention. You see my argument is not with the theory, it's the practise. There is no doubt that personal computers have become an easily accessible medium for broadcasting, be it TV, radio or other. I will be as bold as to say that everyone reading this post will have had experience using BBC iPlayer, or Sky Player, or failing that watched a few clips on YouTube and realised that suddenly you've lost an hour of your time. Its so simple, overwhelmingly accessible and likely to became very important to many in the future.

However, right now, this is still not an option for everyone. My research (read: googling) from the Office of National Statistics shows that roughly a third of homes in the UK do not have access at home to the Internet. That means one third of the population do not have direct access to view the England game, regardless of price of PPV. This contrasts with news that 90% of UK homes have not only television, but 'Digital' television. So it begs the question, if the BBC's purpose is to represent the people, regardless of ratings, why hasn't it?

Having already been priced out of going to the matches, more and more are further getting distanced from their national team. This is not on.

I, for one, will not be paying to watch this match and I encourage you to do likewise.

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