November 1, 2012

England in India 2012

A spate of broadcaster spats

As negotiations continue between the broadcasters and the BCCI over access to facilities in India, the BBC's credibility has been called into question if they do not broadcast from the grounds and comparisons with "alternative cricket commentary" service Test Match Sofa, have been debated.

Firstly, in the Times, Christopher Martin-Jenkins had some strong words for TMS #2 and tells tales of yore of the real TMS, of which he features as one of the first to describe action from all overseas tours.

I just hope that the BBC will not have to bend its principles too far to achieve the desired compromise. But the thought of having to listen to the predators who purport to be producing commentaries from sofa or armchair without paying a penny to the England and Wales Cricket Board for the rights, is too ghastly to contemplate. The sooner they are nailed and swept offline, the better.

Andy Bull uses the Spin blog on the Guardian website to similarly declare his love for TMS and provides an insight into the earliest days of cricket commentary, most of which appears to have been made up.

In the very earliest days of broadcasts from Australia the commentary team would sit on the other side of the world and wait for written reports of the play to come in by cable after each over. This was how the Australian commentator Alan McGilvray started out. His job, he explains in his autobiography, was to decode the cable and, using his imagination, render it into something more suitable for broadcast.

And in response, Andrew Miller, editor of the Cricketer magazine - who purchased Test Match Sofa earlier this year - launched a defence of the Sofa in the Mail, refuting any claim that the service are "predators".

The Cricketer saw in Test Match Sofa a cult following of young, technologically savvy cricket fans - a demographic that it might not have attracted by any other means. In return the Sofa was offered shelter and status, and a chance for that seed of a concept to germinate. At a stroke, each had doubled their potential audience, and shored up the other's foundations. It was, and remains, a win-win scenario.

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