Editorial by Tego.
As a football fan (possibly the biggest and greatest football fan on the planet but that's neither here nor there) I feel I have a responsibility to stand up for Setanta Sports; the channel that (thanks to the EU) managed to break the stranglehold BSkyB had on British football for well over 10 years. When the EU announced that BSkyB had a monopoly over Premier League football it ruled that another network must be allowed to screen a percentage of yearly games. Setanta stood up and paid almost £400Million for the right to televise Premier League football over 10 years. Their charge for fans would be £10 a month on a non-contract basis. On top of Premier League football Setanta subscribers would receive live German League football, live Scottish League football, live French league football, coverage from all the other major European leagues (apart from Spain) and a host of other sports including Boxing, UFC, Cricket (they carried the controversial IPL), Rugby League, Golf and Aussie Rules football. After a steady period of declining interest in the English national team, Setanta forked out £5Million per game for England's away World Cup Qualifiers with Andorra and last night's amazing game with Croatia. BBC and ITV attempted to purchase highlight packages from Setanta to screen later in the evening. Baring in mind that England have been booed off the pitch in their last 3 games and that viewing figures have been on the wane for 5 years Setanta didn't feel they had to offer a cut price package for either terrestrial broadcaster as it would impact their own viewing figures (no offence BBC but they actually rely on those), Setanta actually ended up unlocking their subscription channel on Freeview for all Ditigal viewers to see the highlights for free later on in the evening.
"It is perhaps a little unfortunate that large numbers of people were not able to see the match live,"Gormless Brown declared today "And that is something that I think a lot of supporters will want to have answers to." well you can talk to the courts Mr Brown. Setanta bought a product outright. They have the right to do with it what they wish. The people who may have wanted to watch the game and not visit a pub or subscribe themselves (1 million less viewers on Setanta than similar games on the BBC last season, a drop in the ocean to be frank) have a right to complain of course but that's where it stops. We're talking about a national team that failed to qualify for the European Championships over the summer, we're talking about a viewing package that was made available to every broadcaster and Setanta forked out the finance. The Evening Standard have a two page spread today announcing "The most loathed TV sports channel", the article itself does very little other than speculate as to the financial wellbeing of the company through rumours and conjecture. I think it's appalling that such an issue is being made of this. As a child I was unable to watch any live football. Any. Sky had a complete monopoly. My family couldn't commit to £35 a month for a minimum 12 months. Very few families could. Setanta offer a non-contract subscription service at an affordable price and goes out of its way to satisfy its customers by spending big on football. In an especially competitive industry such as football, to have the Prime Minister and a respected daily newspaper challenge the enterprise of a small broadcaster for perfectly legal and legitimate practice is despicable. It stinks of the Labour classist agenda to me.