The BBC has "struck a deal" to broadcast live TV coverage of snooker's biggest U.K. tournaments until '17, according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. A three-year extension of the current BBC deal with World Snooker, the deal "gives the corporation the U.K. TV rights to the World Championship, U.K. Championship and the Masters." The agreement includes digital rights for iPlayer as well as the possibility of a further snooker event being added to the agreement from '14. World Snooker Chair Barry Hearn said that it was important that the sport has remained on terrestrial TV, claiming that 28.5 million people watched Ronnie O'Sullivan take his fourth world title last year. BBC2's coverage of O'Sullivan's win in the World Championship final "attracted an average audience of 2.1 million viewers" (GUARDIAN, 1/9).
Bangkok Bank has lent Cable Thai Holdings, a joint venture of local cable TV operators, THB 14B ($461M) for EPL rights for the '13-15 seasons, according to Kewaleewongsatorn & Banchongduang of the BANGKOK POST. CTH raised its investment budget by 25% to THB 25B after securing the deal, with the extra money earmarked "to install a fibre-optic network nationwide, buy more content and invest in new broadcast technology." Before obtaining the Premier League rights, CTH had planned to spend THB 20B "to bolster its cable network" from '12-14. Of the THB 14B spent on the English league rights, THB 10B "will be used to acquire EPL content and the rest to upgrade CTH's fibre-optic network." CTH Chair Wichai Thongtang said that the loan "will have a more than three-year repayment period," given that the EPL seasons will run until the middle of the '16 season (BANGKOK POST, 1/9).
Former Channel 4 horse racing pundit John McCririck is seeking £3M ($4.8M) "in damages for alleged age discrimination over the broadcaster's decision to drop him last year," according to Jason Deans of the London GUARDIAN. McCririck said he was sacked from Channel 4 Racing in October "without any consultation or cogent explanation." He is suing Channel 4 and IMG Sports Media, which took over production of the broadcaster's racing coverage from the start of '13, for £2.5M ($4M) "in punitive damages" and seeking a further £500,000 ($800,900) "in compensation for loss of future earnings, unfair career damaging, public humiliation, stress and mental anguish." A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "We are grateful to John McCririck for his contribution towards the success of Channel 4 Racing over many years. However, we reject the suggestion that discrimination on the basis of age played any part in the decision not to renew his freelance contract, and we will be vigorously defending this claim" (GUARDIAN, 1/9). In London, Marcus Townend wrote McCririck, who was arguably the best known face on C4 racing with appeal reaching far beyond the normal boundaries of the sport, "was one of several familiar faces not retained when C4 changed the company producing their racing output from Highflyer to IMG Sports Media." Others "who lost out included John Francome, Alastair Down, Derek Thompson and Mike Cattermole" (DAILY MAIL, 1/9).