The Cycling Conundrum – TV Rights
Cycling is currently the new golf. In my world golf is still not a sport I consider myself old enough for, I simply have too much energy for that. But like golf, and almost every other sport, change is being driven by TV rights and commercial opportunities.
SBS and me – things are a little different
For many years, and like many others, I have worked for SBS on-call and unpaid by providing expert commentary and opinion. Whether I am good or bad, a voice worth listening too or a mug that can be tolerated on the screen - this is no longer an option for me due to rights.
I run a tourism business. I have been on site at the Tour de France for many years and commented on finishes for SBS. Cycling Australia has acquired the official rights to run tours to the Tour de France. SBS have the rights to the coverage of the Tour de France. Phil Anderson is no longer able to comment on any such official channel as it would appear I am a threat to the rights holders.
Despite this, I still watch the coverage and shows. I am a cycling fan after all.
The broadcasting of the Tour down Under
Most of us are aware that SBS do not have the rights to the coverage of the TdU. Events SA have sold the rights to a commercial network to the howls of dismay from the cycling fraternity.
Race Director, Mike Turtur, does not have much to do with rights acquisitions although he may have had a say. He runs a colourful but tight ship at the TdU. As the race director and Oceana UCI representative, during an event he did not disclose to the public that a rider was currently under investigation.
Realistically, I am not sure he could have or should have revealed details of current investigations however SBS felt they had the right to criticise Mike’s decisions about processes. In fact, they made a bit of a deal about it. SBS may have gone in a bit too hard, perhaps, having lost the rights, they felt entitled to offer more powerful commentary but I am not sure that Mike should have or could have made disclosures until due process had prevailed.
The tragedy is now Mike Turtur is suing SBS.
More controversy in the season lead up
Although cycling/sport/commentary/media is doing reasonably well in Australia the last thing we need is a big stoush just before the start of the 2014 season. You know Mike, let it go, SBS have lost a bit of dignity with this one. It’s sour grapes.
To be quite frank the current line-up of experts who feel they have the right to criticise riders performances need to pull their heads in, get on a bike and have a crack at the races themselves if they think they can do a better job.
This is a great sport, and there are troubles still. Commercial rights are a problem for us all - honesty, disclosure and integrity count for little.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 22, 2013