Foster on online pay-per-view for England World Cup match: football’s “making a fast buck” at fans’ expense

Well, the good news for Lib Dems is that it should be safe to go knocking on doors on Saturday afternoon knowing you’re not going to interrupt an England World Cup qualifier on the telly. The bad news – if you’re a football supporter without home access to the Internet – is that you can’t watch England take on Ukraine.

The BBC explains:

England’s World Cup qualifier in Ukraine on Saturday will be shown exclusively live to subscribers on the internet who will pay at least £4.99. All previously broadcast England matches have been available on TV.

Kentaro – an international agency appointed by the Ukrainian Football Federation – originally sold the UK rights for the game to Setanta. But after the pay-TV firm collapsed, digital sport specialist Perform was appointed to stream the match online.

The match will be shown on the website and viewers will be able to subscribe to it using PayPal, the electronic payment service.

England have already qualified for the 2010 World Cup, winning all eight of their group matches. It is understood none of the traditional broadcasters were willing to pay the asking price to screen the game, which kicks off at 1715 BST.

The Lib Dems’ shadow culture, media and sport spokesman Don Foster is one of many unhappy with the idea:

Using the internet is an innovative idea, and a potential model for the future. But the reality is that many fans will miss out because they don’t have internet access at home and their local pub cannot easily screen the game.

“This is just another example of football’s love affair with money – making a fast buck always takes priority over the interests of the fans.”

Is this a glimpse of the future; or is it a retrogade step dressed-up as progress? Should all World Cup qualifiers be made available for everybody on free-to-air TV by ensuring the game’s governing bodies, Fifa and Uefa, insist as a condition of entry that all nations sell the broadcasting rights of their games, home or away, to terrestrial stations? Or would this be undue interference in the broadcasting market?

Do LDV readers have a view?

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  • An MP can still comment on things which are “none of the government’s business”.

    In any case whether the broadcasting of sports events is available to the general public is, in very general terms, part of the government’s business (the golden list etc).

    Maybe I’m feeling pretty old but isn’t the televising (terrestrial or otherwise) of all England qualifiers and friendlies a relatively new invention? The Murdoch bashers tend to forget that even with Sky there is vastly more live, free to air football on now than at pretty much any point in the past. Midweek live matches were a huge rarity when I were a lad for example.

  • I look forward to his comments on the coverage or otherwise of Wales and Scotland matches.

  • Martin Land 6th Oct '09 - 6:08pm

    Hywel, and I can remember watching Warrington against Wigan eating a meat pie and screaming ‘now the wire’ in short trousers. But 45 years have passed and now I expect not just Rugby League matched to be on Tele as well as England Football games. If the BBC can spend so much on Formula 1, at best a minor interest sport, why can’t I watch the national team playing the national sport?

  • “But 45 years have passed and now I expect not just Rugby League matched to be on Tele as well as England Football games.”

    Probably less RL on terrestrial TV now than in the 70s – ie just the Challenge Cup now. Is the Rugby League show on Sunday just a regional show or does it go nationwide.

    I don’t think you can really argue that Motor Sport is a minority interest sport but RL isn’t.

    However on Sky you also get lower league matches and even academy matches.

    I am a big fan of the impact Sky has had on sports coverage – both quantity and quality of coverage. Whilst I regret the loss of live test matches to Sky (a decision like that of Super League which is in the hands of the administrators) Sky means I can watch live coverage of overseas tours, non-England test matches plus a huge amount of domestic first class and list A matches.

    ULtimately the BBC etc are limited by the number of hours they have available. My ideal solution – a free to air digital channel which Sky, BBC, ITV, CH4 could all choose to show events for which they had rights. Doubt it will ever come to fruition though.

  • sanbikinoraion 7th Oct '09 - 10:57am

    It is a bit of a shame that by streaming it on the net, it will not be available in pubs, which are geared up to be able to show games from terrestrial and Sky, even if they have to pay for them on Sky, but not geared up for showing things streamed off the internet…. and the initial outlay for getting something rigged up by the weekend must be at least several hundred, if not a few thousand pounds. Eventually, though, I suspect that the broadcast TV network will be shut down anyway and everything will be streamed over the net, so at some point pubs will have to make the switch – this is a bit soon, though 😛

  • @sanbikinoraion

    This game isn’t available for pubs to buy. IN any case, AIUI the stream is not of good enough quality to show on a big screen in a pub


    Dr Who, for example, doesn’t “need” to be on the BBC either (now I really will get hated!). The idea that the BBC sets the bar in any way when it comes to sports coverage is laughable. The approach of the BBC is to show things in exactly the same way and then whinge like hell when the lose it. Look how they reacted when CH4 got test match coverage – “it will be dumbed down”, they’ll go for ad breaks at crucial moments* In fact it was light years better than what the BBC had been showing in terms of technical innovation, not a single bit of which was at the expense of quality coverage.

    (* The Beeb lost the moral high-ground on that point when they cut away when Graham Gooch was about to reach 300 to show the parade ring at the racing!)

  • Even if I was interested in football, I wouldn’t want to install dodgy proprietary Flash software in my browser, and agree to let Paypal eat my bank account, in order to watch a match….

  • Cllr Patrick Smith 10th Oct '09 - 11:41pm

    I entirely support Don Foster`s pleading that football fans should have the right to watch every England international on a terrestrial TV station and it should be compulsory viewing.

    Furthermore,Mr Foster`s principled stand on creating an insurance poly with TV companies that at least one of them is cable of purchasing the rights to screen home international matches as opposed to the nonsense tonight that meant only Internet coverage.

    Many millions of irate England fans and Scottish ones when some would gloat at `old enemy’ defeat at the hands of Ukraine, albeit that the result was academic to qualification to the World Cup in South Africa.

    I would also ask Mr Foster if he agrees that Wales,N.Ireland and Scotland should also have automatic terrestrial rights to see their internationals, as I would?

    I think England played a really good match, given the one man disadvantage and were unlucky not to get a draw.

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