Media

Jimmy Hill has been at the forefront of the evolution of post–war British football. Barney Ronay reviews the Hill effect

Picture the scene: four middle-aged men are seated around a mahogany-effect dining table. Beyond them a window looks out on to trees and green fields, but on inspection it turns out to be just a large photograph on the wall. One of the men has glasses and a protuberant chin; across the room from him a complacent-looking man with extravagantly bouffant hair says: “Well Jimmy. It’s certainly been a busy weekend for referees.” A deep lethargy descends.

Brendan Fatchett, the former station manager of Teamtalk 252, says football clubs have become too greedy in their demands over radio rights

While a great deal of attention has been paid to football’s problems with television, many fans may not have considered whether they are getting a good deal from radio broadcasters. Is there enough competition, or are we on the verge of finding too many sporting rights in the hands of too few broadcasters?

John Bourn looks back at ITV's neglected trump card, its regional coverage

When ITV’s outgoing director of programmes, Da­vid Liddiment, criticised the BBC in a newspaper interview on August 19, their response was cutting: Liddiment was accused of “having presided over the most disastrous period in ITV’s history”.

Portsmouth are one of several Football League clubs keen to keep ITV crews out of their ground, in spite of the proposed new deal. Steven Morgan reports

Money isn’t everything. The old cliche might sound even more trite than usual coming from a sup­porter of Ports­mouth, a club propped up by a billionaire chairman. However, it does seem to carry a ring of truth in the Fratton Park boardroom at present, at least where ITV are concerned.

Football Focus presenter Ray Stubbs explains to Andy Lyons how the BBC's flagship has coped with the loss of highlights rights, and how it dealt with the ITV Digital story

Some might say Football Focus has be­come more fan-oriented over time, but the prog­ramme is always evolving and you don’t particularly notice which way it’s going unless you sit back and look at the tapes of it season by season. Sometimes the BBC might set the agenda, ITV comes up with a response, then Sky, then that in turn might trigger a response from us. We all take the lead at different times. I’m not someone who will just say “the BBC leads the way”, but at the same time I am proud of what we do. I think our public ser­vice broadcast remit does enable us to go a little bit deeper in our coverage than some other broadcasters might feel they are able to.

Luke Chapman says two new hooligan documentaries show the viewing public's appetite for violence is undiminished, especially if it has a good soundtrack

It was the adverts that gave the game away. The usual parade of booze, car and financial services promotions, clearly aimed at the programme’s target market: males, 18-45, high disposable income – with perhaps a penchant for a bit of fisticuffs. Welcome to Football’s Fight Club, where viewer and subject were perceived to be one and the same.

Al Needham isn't ashamed to admit he was an ITV Digital subscriber. Here he recalls the channel's highlights – that's the first two paragraphs anyway

When ITV (née ON) Digital was launched in aut­umn 1998, it seemed a very appealing offer to the televisual tat aficionado such as myself. You could get WWF and back-to-back episodes of On The Buses without throwing any cash directly into the maw of Rupert Murdoch, and you only had to plug it in and ring a call centre to get connected.

Haydn Parry looks back on the life of Britain's first regular TV football commentator, who will inevitably be best remembered for just two sentences

The first time I met Kenneth Wolstenholme, I im­mediately got into his good books by not mentioning “you know what”. As luck would have it, I wanted him to talk specifically about the World Cup of four years later, Mexico 1970, which he went on to admit was his favourite tournament for the quality of the football, if not for England’s fate. He managed to get through a whole interview without any mention of Geoff Hurst, 4-2 or “people on the pitch” which, understandably, was something of a rar­ity for him – actually, I got the distinct im­pression he was rather relieved.

After two weeks on air, ITV's new soap Footballers' Wives has been met with praise and scorn alike.  Joyce Woolridge explains why she hasn't been taken in by the show

Footballers’ Wives is ITV’s contribution to the small sub-genre of football soaps, which also includes BBC’s Playing The Field and Sky’s Dream Team. It has garnered praise in some un­likely quarters: Richard Williams in the Guardian admired its “lean script, functional direction... [and] underplayed acting” and on Radios 1 and 5 a range of BBC employees from Chris Moyles to the Drive “team” enthusiastically plugged their rival channel’s product.

How is the League of Wales losing out on television coverage to Welsh rugby? Paul Ashley-Jones finds out

If you were to believe all you hear, there is far too much football on TV. Even the most dedicated of fans is in danger of overexposure, apparently. But not in Wales. Yes, we get ITV’s Premiership and Champions League coverage and, if you’re prepared to subscribe, you can access the football overload weighing down most of the rest of the country.

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