BBC committed to Open coverage

Published: Sunday 7th June 2015 by The News Editor

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The BBC remains “committed” to televising the Open Championship for the next two years, despite a report claiming its current deal could end a year early.

It was confirmed by the R&A in February that Sky Sports has been awarded exclusive rights to live television coverage in a five-year deal from 2017, with the BBC offering two-hour daily highlights and live coverage on radio and online.

A report in the Observer said the BBC was considering ending its live television coverage after this year’s event at St Andrews, a move which would reportedly save the corporation around £7million.

However, a BBC spokesperson told Press Association Sport: “We remain committed to our current contract with the R&A.”

Sky Sports did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

High-profile players voiced their disappointment about the move to Sky, with former world number one Lee Westwood branding it an ”absolute disgrace”.

In an open letter published when the deal was confirmed, outgoing R&A chief executive Peter Dawson insisted ”numerous factors” were taken into account and played down talk about the relationship between free-to-air viewing and participation.

Dawson said: ”I recognise that this new broadcast model represents a significant change and I understand that change, particularly where it involves the BBC, is controversial.

”Numerous factors were weighed in this process such as quality of coverage, household reach, innovations in the broadcast, commercial considerations and promotion of the Open and our sport throughout the year.

”I know there are many who are concerned that the Open no longer being shown live on the BBC will lead to a reduction in participation in our sport and I wanted to take this opportunity to address this specific point.

”We have looked at this issue very carefully and believe it is not possible to make an informed case that participation is simply and directly linked to free-to-air television viewing. There is no question that free-to-air sports broadcasts generate good exposure for sport…but firm conclusions about their positive impact on participation cannot be drawn.”

Published: Sunday 7th June 2015 by The News Editor

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