Battle of the Brands

Sports Media Rights

Roy Keane 



Media rights it's cheaper by tube.


By  Marc Webber

The World Cup has taught sporting organisations a much-needed lesson –don’t be greedy.

For the past few years, the people in charge of the broadcasting rights at some of the biggest events have seen a chance to make a buck, by demanding fees that are well beyond the reach of most radio stations.

As the internet and new media business grew, web sites –desperate for content –started writing out blank cheques for audio and video rights. It made the owners of those rights think, "well, if these web sites can afford to pay that…then so can radio and TV".

Unfortunately, TV stations caved in to the excessive demands and paid out the ridiculous sums of money which eventually led to their downfall (ITV Digital being the prime example).

Thankfully, the independent radio industry was a bit more stubborn and refused to be held to ransom by such demands.

People were so ready to criticise TALK sport and Kelvin McKenzie for doing the now infamous "off-tube" commentaries; where reporters sat in hotels or studios, reporting on the match from a TV set. But the reality is that move has probably saved the whole of the independent radio sector millions of pounds.

The format has now become vogue for a number of broadcasters, from Independent Radio News through to some of the smallest local radio stations in the land. Only the BBC publicly refuse to advocate the use of TV pictures to do radio commentary, even though it would save the Corporation millions of pounds of money paid by the public.

The "off-tube" format has now left sporting organisations (and the people who administer their broadcasting rights) with a moral dilemma. Do they lower the charge for radio rights, allowing as many stations to access them as possible? Or, do they keep asking inflated prices for publicity even though they know there is a legal alternative for broadcasters to use if they really want to cover this event?

I fear that, if they stubbornly stick to the first suggestion, and do not reach a compromise with radio stations, then those sports will eventually suffer from a massive loss of revenue.