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Volume 6 No. 214


Some viewers were prevented from watching their favorite BBC shows online for more than 24 hours over the weekend, "when the corporation's popular iPlayer video-on-demand service was hit by a technical glitch," according to Jason Deans of the London GUARDIAN. Users of the iPlayer "took to Twitter to complain" about not being able to access programs online, including highlights of Saturday's F1 qualifying for the German Grand Prix. On Sunday afternoon, the homepage was displaying a message warning users that "due to technical problems" it was operating a "simplified" version. The BBC News website appeared to be "working normally again on Sunday afternoon." However, over the weekend some online users reportedly "found error messages when accessing BBC web pages," including World Cup 2014 (GUARDIAN, 7/20).

BBC staff members "have called off strike action that could have disrupted coverage of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, after management tabled an improved pay offer," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. BBC members of the National Union of Journalists, media and entertainment union Bectu and Unite said that "the strike action had been called off following the tabling of an improved two-year offer after lengthy negotiations." Elements of the improved offer include staff earning under £50,000 ($85,000) receiving a flat-rate rise of £650 ($1,100), with those earning more getting a £500 ($850) rise. Starting in January all staff "would receive an additional" £150 ($256); from Aug. '15 there would be a 2.5% rise for all staff. The strike "would have disrupted news production for the opening of the Commonwealth Games, as well as newsgathering and programme production across BBC radio and TV services" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).

The "first sign of a new season" is when BT and Sky Sports "start spending a fortune on adverts telling fans which matches they have secured in the opening round of the convoluted 'picks process' that dictates which of the two rival broadcasters will show each game," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. John Petter, who is the CEO of BT Consumer, the wing of the company that oversees BT Sport, said, "If there’s one lesson from the Premier League in 2013-14 it’s that there is more than enough drama to go around. Sky had some decent viewing figures and we were happy with ours too." It has been almost two years since BT announced its intent "to take on Sky." The man who helped plan that deal around his kitchen table "is trying to play down the enmity that has grown between them." Now he says he "wants to move on from that bitter war of words." Petter: "We’re not focused on them and we shouldn’t be focused on them. We’re focused on our customers." The "truce may well be a case of the calm before the storm." There will be a "major battle for the next set of Premier League rights." The starting gun for that battle, which analysts expect to increase the £3B deal by 40%, "will be fired later this year when the Premier League releases its invitation to tender documents for the three seasons" from '16-17. Petter "is unsurprisingly coy about BT’s likely strategy." It "will have to decide how to proceed after plumping for a 'middle way' that offers BT Sport free to its own broadband customers and charges £12 a month to Sky customers." That strategy "will have to shift anyway when it starts exclusively showing all Champions League and Europa League games live" from '15-16. That could "clear the way for a strategy whereby BT customers get the main channels free but pay extra for a premium service -- which could house the most attractive Premier League games" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).

Fox Int'l Channels "has confirmed the launch of the company’s flagship sports TV brand, Fox Sports, in sub-Saharan Africa," according to ADVANCED TELEVISION. Two new channels, Fox Sports and Fox Sports 2, "will replace Setanta Sports and Setanta Action." The channels are set to launch in August "to coincide with the kick-off of the new 2014-15 football league season." The "rebranding and re-launch of the channels consolidates Fox brands in the region, and creates the most dynamic and diverse sports network available anywhere." Fox Sports "will focus mainly on football, broadcasting more than 2,000 hours of content every year with live coverage of the major international football leagues." It "will also offer daily news programming and a wide range of football-related ‘magazine’ shows and other football content." Setanta Action "will be rebranded as Fox Sports 2, offering an alternative sports selection to bring African viewers a wide variety of international sports," including Euroleague Basketball, Formula E motor racing, DTM touring cars, National Rugby League, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and boxing (ADVANCED TELEVISION, 7/18).

Taiwan's professional baseball league, the Chinese Professional Baseball League, said Sunday that TV broadcasting of its games "will continue as scheduled that day, despite the league's new media partner unilaterally terminating a cooperation agreement," according to the CNA. The league said CPBL games "will be broadcast on the Sportcast, Elta TV and CPBL TV channels." However, it is unclear whether the broadcasting on Sportcast, which runs the program on its multimedia on-demand services, "will continue in the future." MP & Silva "unexpectedly announced a day earlier that it will end its contract with the CPBL." MP & Silva said that the termination went into effect that same day "without explaining the reason behind the decision, although it described the CPBL as having violated the contract." In response, the CPBL released a statement later that day in which "it guaranteed that broadcasting on the MOD and CPBL TV platforms will not stop" (CNA, 7/20).