ONCE again all those searching for live television free to air coverage of the 2010 British Open golf won’t find much joy.
Channel Nine supposedly has the rights sewn up to golf’s oldest and most loved major golf tournament but at this stage they seem to have more commitment to screening old episodes of Skippy.
Fox Sports will screen the championship, which at this stage features a dozen Aussie players, live beginning at 6pm on Thursday.
According to the Foxtel program the pay tv coverage of the first round goes through to 5 am.
I admit to being a little mathematically challenged but I reckon that’s about 11 hours of live coverage first up.
Channel 9 on the other hand, according to their latest program gude, will begin their coverage of the British Open with a one hour highlights package at 12 am on Saturday.
That’s at least better than what the Channel Nine Publicity Department in Sydney directly informed me last Friday.
It took them a day to provide the information that it seemed – the 150th anniversary of the British Open being held at the hallowed St Andrews was obviously very low on their radar – that their coverage began with a one high highlights show at 2 am on Sunday morning (It turns out Skippy is on at 1.30 am).
A spokesperson said under their contract they could only screen four, one hour highlights packages.
The thing is, the British Open is one of four golf events supposedly “protected” under the current Australian television anti-siphoning laws.
The other three are the Australian Open, the Australian Masters and the US Masters.
You’ll note the big difference between those three tournaments and the British Open – they get quite extensive television coverage, with the Ten Network and ONE HD providing quite decent coverage of the US Masters.
Channel Nine telecasts the Australian Masters and in this instance even they manage to squeeze in some golf around the Channel Nine talking heads.
From memory, last year Tiger Woods teed off in the first round at about 8am, the full Channel Nine telecast started at noon and they showed the first live golf shot some 45 minutes later.
Whilst the anti-siphoning legislation (it’s still under review by the Federal Government) might be complicated for the average Joe (and especially for mathematically AND legally challenged me) it seems patently obvious if a commercial free to air network has the initial rights to a “protected” program they can choose to telecast as much of it as they want.
If Channel Nine doesn’t think there are enough ratings or revenue in the British Open for them, why don’t they just hand it over to Ten and ONE HD.
It makes a mockery of all those ads you see from the free to air commercial channels wanting public support for their campaign of protecting big sporting events for the masses.
What will likely happen will be the same as 2009. If there is a favoured Australian player – or like last year if there is big public interest in the final run of a Tom Watson – Channel Nine will suddenly decide to screen the final round live from around 11pm on Sunday night. (The Foxtel final round coverage by the way begins at 7 pm)
The other alternative for those without a pay television subscription but with a half decent broadband connection is free live internet streaming.
Try places such as Veetle, Justin TV or MyP2P Golf when play is underway. MyP2P Golf is usually the best place to start as there are a number of alternatives. You may have to downloard some new viewer software which is usually safe. [Update: One of the best and easily accessible streams here during round one was "IraqGoalsTV" would you believe".]
I asked the Channel Nine publicity spokesperson to provide written confirmation of their 2010 British Open television coverage, and for an official statement on why their scheduled coverage is so poor.
We’re still waiting for the email. I think they’re getting Skippy to deliver it. He never was much of a typist.