FA Cup: ITV boss apologises for glitch that meant viewers missed only goal

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has apologised for the "inexcusable" glitch that meant viewers missed the winning goal in last night's FA Cup Merseyside derby.

Grade said an inquiry had been launched into the "unprecedented transmission error" which meant millions of viewers in a number of regions, including Liverpool and London, missed the 118th minute goal by 19-year-old Everton player Dan Gosling after ITV unexpectedly cut to an advertising break.

The broadcaster blamed technical problems at its transmission centre and said it wasn't the fault of its production team.

Today, Grade – who was watching the match at home and also missed the goal – said new procedures would be put in place to make sure it didn't happen again.

"Most importantly I'd like to apologise to all our viewers who were affected by last night's unprecedented technical error," he said. "As a football fan myself I was glued to the match and was as disappointed as anyone to miss the goal.

"We have years of experience in dealing with the changes in ad break patterns when games go into extra time and, sometimes penalties – this we have done faultlessly through the Champions League, World Cup and European Championships.

"Last night's glitch was inexcusable and we are awaiting the results of our technical inquiry so we can put in place stringent and immediate procedures to address this."

Grade also suggested that heads could roll over the incident. Speaking on ITV's Lunchtime News today, he said: "We're still trying to figure out how it happened and there may be a few yellow and red cards following this."

Gosling's goal, which occurred after viewers had sat through almost two goalless hours, took Everton into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

When producers belatedly returned to the action, the scene showed Everton players mobbing each other in celebration. "Liverpool are out of the FA Cup," said the studio anchor, Steve Rider, after the final whistle. "And apologies if you missed seeing that decisive goal live. But, er ..."

The mistake was not the first time ITV has dropped the ball during its £275m FA Cup coverage.

Although winning plaudits for its in-depth approach to the early rounds of the tournament, it was embarrassed into making repeated apologies it broadcast a naked player during coverage of second-round match between Histon and Leeds United.

The network's access-all-areas coverage of the game found it broadcasting a naked Histon player who was caught on camera in the dressing room after the non-league club's victory. During the match the pitch-side microphones also picked up the foul-mouthed insults from a section of Leeds supporters, and rain on the cameras further spoiled coverage.

There was also controversy after a failed gamble by the broadcaster over which third-round matches to send its outside-broadcast trucks to. Having only sent an outline operation to Manchester City's hosting of Nottingham Forest, ITV was caught on the hop by the Championship club's 3-0 defeat of the world's richest club.

But despite that shock, highlights producers chose to stick with their original running order, with Derby County's expected defeat of Forest Green Rovers – albeit a seven-goal affair – remaining at the top of the programme.

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FA Cup: ITV boss apologises for glitch that meant viewers missed only goal

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 14.46 GMT on Thursday 5 February 2009. It was last updated at 14.46 GMT on Thursday 5 February 2009.

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