Monday, April 23, 2012


The BBC risks losing broadcasting rights for The Open if it continues to scale back live golf coverage, according to the game's governors.
Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, says the corporation are on a "financial plateau" and admits the quality of their coverage has slipped.
From 2013, the BBC will screen only six days of live men's professional golf. It has a contract to show the Open live until 2016 but, speaking at this year's venue of Royal Lytham and St Annes, Dawson made it clear there is no guarantee of that agreement being extended.
"Certainly," replied Dawson (pictured) when asked if the BBC's lack of interest in golf was a concern to the R abd A. "We have had that conversation with the BBC. They know we have got our eye on them. It hasn't just been in golf but with the likes of tennis as well.
"You have to stay in practice and keep up with advances in technology. You need to be in practice to do it well. We obviously want the Open Championship to be seen by as many people as we can.
"The BBC know they need to get off the financial plateau they are on with the Open Championship by the next time it comes around. Who knows who will be on the scene then?"
The BBC's live coverage of last year's Open Championship was fronted by Hazel Irvine, after a short experiment with Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker. Peter Alliss, one of the BBC's longest-serving commentators, is the most distinctive broadcasting voice behind the microphone.
Dawson volunteered ESPN – who hold a US broadcast deal with the R and A – as potential rivals to the BBC. Contractual talks are due to get underway between the R and A and the BBC about 18 months before the present deal ends.
For now, the Open is placed on a B section of listed events earmarked for free-to-air coverage. Others alongside them, such as the Ryder Cup and domestic Test cricket matches, only have highlights coverage on terrestrial television.
Dawson reiterated his personal stance that the respective tours in Europe and the US should make it public when players are punished for bad on-course behaviour. Tiger Woods again generated unwanted attention at the Masters for swearing and kicking a club; the former world No1 has previous for spitting on courses.
"It is a rather unedifying spectacle, there's no doubt about that," Dawson said. "I am on record as saying public sanctions would not be a bad thing and that they would be more likely to lead to a correction of bad behaviour."



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