Fox Int'l Channels Italy and Mediaset "have concluded an agreement for the distribution of the Fox Sports channel on the pay-TV platform Mediaset Premium," according to Branislav Pekic of ADVANCED TELEVISION. Fox Sports "will broadcast the matches of major football leagues in Europe," including the EPL and FA Cup, the Spanish La Liga and the French Ligue 1. Fox Sports "will be included at no additional cost in the Football package of Mediaset Premium" and will debut Aug. 17 (ADVANCED TELEVISION, 7/31). VARIETY's Nick Vivarelli wrote Mediaset shares closed up 3.27 on the Milan stock exchange Tuesday, "driven largely by the fact that on Monday Mediaset's paybox Mediaset Premium inked a key deal to carry Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports channel," which includes live British, French, and Spanish top league football, providing a big boost to the paybox's football offerings. The wider implication of this deal is that Mediaset and Murdoch's Sky Italia paybox have reached a truce "after being at each other's throats for years." They are united by a common effort to counter the arrival in Italy of Al Jazeera, "which is ramping up its global sports side" (VARIETY, 7/30).
The British government "has again attacked the BBC for sexist sports coverage" after presenter Colin Murray said that Olympic Gold Medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill "had the ultimate bottom," according to Martin Robinson of the London DAILY MAIL. A capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium was left shocked by Murray's comments just weeks after John Inverdale said Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli "was never going to be a looker." Colin Murray "had been given the job of geeing up the crowd at the Anniversary Games in the Olympic Stadium." The 36-year-old told the 80,000 people there that the ultimate athlete would have "The stamina of Mo (Farah), the speed of (Usain) Bolt, the leap of (Greg) Rutherford and the bottom of Jess Ennis." Although his comments were not broadcast, "it led to a row on Twitter where the Northern Irish presenter was accused of sexism" and living in the '50s (DAILY MAIL, 7/30).
CONFRONTING THE PROBLEM: In London, Ian Burrell wrote comments made by Murray "have been cited by the Culture Secretary Maria Miller as further evidence that the broadcaster needs to do more to confront sexism." Sources close to Miller said that "she did not consider the matter closed and was urgently seeking further information from the BBC about action on more positive representation of women in sport." One source said, "[BBC Dir General] Tony Hall claimed the Inverdale incident was a one-off and had been dealt with but we have seen other occurrences including this one at the Anniversary Games, which clearly underlines the need for positive action on this issue." Murray, who has been surprised at some of the negative reaction to his comment, "tried to play down the matter on Twitter." Murray tweeted, "Hey guys, I said she was the 'greatest all round athlete in the world.'" He received many messages of support online "from those who thought the criticism was unjustified" (INDEPENDENT, 7/30).
Bleacher Report has introduced a new home page and version of its Team Stream mobile application targeted for the U.K. audience. Located at bleacherreport.com/UK, the online destination will contain news and commentary on football, cricket, rugby, F1 and other sports of interest to the U.K. market. To support the initiative, Bleacher Report has boosted its int'l editorial team, as former Eurosport Managing Dir Lee Walker has been hired as managing editor of Bleacher Report's U.K. operation and will report to company Co-Founder and Chief Content & Product Officer Dave Finocchio. Walker will lead a team of more than 50 writers, editors, and contributors.
The IOC has awarded the Olympic broadcast rights for seven countries in South Asia to STAR India for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and the 2014 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. STAR India acquired the rights to all media platforms, including free-to-air TV, subscription TV, Internet and mobile, in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (IOC). REUTER's Karolos Grohmann reported the IOC "has broken new ground in recent years, directly negotiating broadcast rights for some markets instead of selling the rights for all territories on a continent to one umbrella broadcasting institution." There were "no financial details of the deal available." Broadcast rights revenues "are the IOC's biggest source of income" and will top $4B for the period '13-16 (REUTERS, 7/31).
The Int'l Cricket Council has launched the official website of the 2015 World Cup, "which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand." Containing all the latest information about the event to be held in February and March '15, the site -- accessible on any device from www.cricketworldcup.com -- "will be an essential source of tournament, ticketing, player/team/venue information, tour and travel packages for fans around the world" (PTI, 7/31). ... The ICC also announced the launch of the first-ever official ICC Rankings Mobile App, in partnership with Reliance Communications. The Official Reliance ICC Rankings App, available on iPhone, Android, Blackberry smartphones and Blackberry playbook, provides a guide to follow the official ICC team and player rankings for men's and women's int'l cricket (ICC).