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Volume 10 No. 22


England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup “is set to upset spectators and players alike by starting nearly half of the tournament’s 48 matches at 8pm, much later than normal rugby kick-off times,” according to Stephen Jones of the SUNDAY TIMES. In all, 22 games will kick off at 8pm, “with just 10 set for 3pm because of pressure from the southern hemisphere unions.” A provisional match schedule that RWC sources believe will be confirmed “shows every England game scheduled for the evening slot, which is unpopular with fans,” as well as two quarterfinals, both semis and the final. Financial guarantees demanded by the Int’l Rugby Board "call for average crowds of 55,000." The sensitivity of kick-off times was revealed last week. An online poll showed nearly 90% of the rugby-paying public preferred 3pm kick-offs. Meanwhile, a group of New Zealand players revealed their preference for afternoon games, saying they enjoyed games most in South Africa, where games start in daylight (SUNDAY TIMES, 5/5).

BBC Scotland "has agreed a new three-year deal" with the Scottish Premier League beginning in '13-14 to cover matches across TV, radio and online, according to the BBC. The deal allows BBC Scotland to "broadcast TV highlights on Sportscene, cover matches live on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound and publish match highlights on the BBC Sport website." Live TV match coverage is provided by Sky, and beginning this summer BT Vision will take over ESPN's rights until '17 (BBC, 5/2). SCOTZINE's Andy Muirhead reported there is "no news on how much the deal is worth." The deal "will also see BBC Scotland provide" up to 10 live radio commentaries every season of Rangers' games and publish match highlights online. However, "there is some consternation among Scottish Football fans and the product produced" to cover games. Many "have criticised the format and lack of quality punditry on Sportscene, along with limited highlights and the failure to air post match interviews with players, managers and even in-depth analysis" (SCOTZINE, 5/3).

Scottish Third Division Rangers "have banned BBC journalists from the club’s stadium and its training ground" after the broadcaster revealed a leaked document which indicated "a plot to sack manager Ally McCoist," according to the SCOTSMAN. The BBC posted a story online about a leaked document entitled "Football Philosophy: The Way Forward," which appeared to show that former CEO Charles Green "had planned to install a new coaching team at the Ibrox club." The plan had "apparently been written by an investor outlining his vision for the club." The document said, “There is a big risk that if the current coaching regime remains, then fans will stop coming and we will see half of the season ticket sales we had this season. Change is required, and this starts with a big decision.” However, the plans for change "had been shelved after Green left Rangers." As a result, the club issued a statement on its website saying that "it had asked BBC football correspondents present at the Berwick game at Ibrox to leave." Rangers accused the BBC of reporting which lacked “logic, balance and fairness” as they announced the ban (SCOTSMAN, 5/5).

German private-TV channel RTL "has recorded 3 million less viewers in comparision to its last boxing broadcast of a Wladimir Klitschko fight in November," according to Alexander Krei of DWDL. An average of 8.31 million viewers tuned in late Saturday night to watch RTL's broadcast of the heavyweight fight between Klitschko and Francesco Pianeta. The fight, which started at 11:12pm German time, obtained a 37.4% share. However, Klitschko's last fight on Nov. 10 was watched by 11.77 million viewers and had a 50% share. In the target demographic 14-49, RTL's coverage of the fight, which Klitschko won by TKO in the sixth round, attracted 3.57 million viewers and recorded a 38.3% share (DWDL, 5/5).

UAE PM Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was in Newmarket, U.K.on Saturday to see Dawn Approach carry his colors to victory in the 2,000 Guineas, "a most welcome fillip after the astonishing story of illicit anabolic steroid use that has damaged his Godolphin operation," according to Chris Cook of the London GUARDIAN. The Sheikh made plain his discomfort on the subject "by cutting short a live Channel 4 interview with Clare Balding when she asked him about the continuing investigation." Balding had had to be persistent to get an interview of any kind, "as the Sheikh twice turned down her off-camera approaches." But, "caught up in the euphoria of the winner's enclosure," he consented. Sheikh Mohammed: "I'm very, very happy to come and see a good horse winning the Guineas." Balding then asked if the Sheikh was "happy" with the actions of the British Horseracing Authority. Already turning away, "melting into his supportive entourage," Sheikh Mohammed said, "That's up to them." Later, he gave an interview to a Dubai TV channel, "who asked no such awkward questions" (GUARDIAN, 5/4).

CBC/Radio Canada, the official rights holder of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, has chosen TVA Sports as one of the official partners to broadcast the Sochi Olympics in French. Details about content to be aired by all channels will be announced in the coming months (CBC). ... Former South African national football coach Ephraim Mashaba "has been roped in" by Nedbank Cup organizers to be part of a football reality TV show. Selected amateur players "will participate in a boot camp with TV viewers voting on who to boot off the team." Some of the survivors "might end up playing" professional football (SOWETAN LIVE, 5/3). ... Infront Sports & Media has introduced a media prodcution operation for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship which will feature an ultra high speed camera along with two additional remote cameras positioned behind each goal (Infront).

IN GERMANY: German pay-TV channel Sky announced that "it will increase its coverage of the Champions League Final on May 25." Orginally, the network "planned to broadcast from 7:30pm-12am" German time. However, "it decided to expand its broadcast as two German sides, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, play in the final." Sky "will now start its Champions League Final broadcast at 6pm" (QUOTENMETER, 5/3). ... German free-to-air channel Sport1 "has acquired partial broadcast rights for the UEFA U21 European Championships in Israel." Sport1 "will show all games that do not feature the German national team." The games of the German team "will be shown by kabel eins and Sat.1." The European Championships will take place from June 5-18 (QUOTENMETER, 5/3).