BBC bids £400m for Champions League games
Last updated at 21:12 29 February 2008
three-nil down to ITV with only
a few minutes left on the clock.
Time then, corporation bosses
have decided, to throw caution
to the winds and use up to £400million
of taxpayers' money on a bid
to land the rights to broadcast
Champions League games.
Scroll down to read more:
Top team: BBC football experts Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson
BBC sports chiefs are desperate to
wrest top European football from ITV
after the commercial channel poached
the FA Cup and England internationals
from them – leaving them with no
top-drawer live football rights from
the end of this season.
They are so determined that presenters
such as Gary Lineker and Alan
Hansen are said to have been told that
the deal will be done at all costs.
But critics are baffled at why the
BBC is preparing to splash out millions
of licence fee money on something
that is already on terrestrial TV.
They are also outraged that the
corporation looks likely to pay a
massive premium on its bid to
cover loss of revenue to the tournament
caused by sponsors'
adverts being barred from the
The timing of such an enormous
bid is also controversial with the
corporation shedding up to 1,800
jobs and cutting budgets on news
and current affairs programmes.
ITV pays £120million for its
three-year deal for the elite competition.
As part of this it has to
mention six sponsors during its
UEFA, European football's governing
body, is believed to be
looking to at least double the current
£120million deal as the bidding
process gets under way for
the broadcasting rights from
On top of that, UEFA would
expect the BBC to make up the
revenue lost by not showing
adverts for sponsors such as Ford
and MasterCard, which get
repeated exposure as official
sponsors on the ITV coverage.
Insiders suggest the corporation
would have to spend about
£60million alone just to settle the
shortfall caused by not showing
If the BBC decides to bid for the
top two picks of games for both Tuesday and Wednesday, the corporation
is expected to have to
offer £400million. A decision to
take the top two games on one of
the nights, as is the ITV deal,
would cost in the region of
An insider said: 'They are telling
everybody they are going to win
it at all costs. But the thing
'One assumes that if they can-not carry that sponsorship they
will have to pay that out as well.
This is what they mean presumably
when they are saying they
will do whatever it takes.'
Conservative MP John Whittingdale,
the chairman of the culture,
media and sport select committee,
said: 'I think it does
sound a huge amount of money
at a time when the BBC claim to
be strapped for cash.
'I don't think the BBC should
just say we have got to have it
come what may and we'll pay
whatever sum is asked of us.
They need to say is this the best
use of licence fee payers' money
and if the cost is too great then
they should just stand aside.'
He added: 'The BBC always
needs to bear in mind that if they
are bidding for programming
against another terrestrial broadcaster,
then the viewers are going
to have the opportunity to see
that product whether or not the
BBC decide to buy it.'
Fellow Tory MP Philip Davies,
who also sits on the committee,
said: 'This is money going down
the drain because the coverage
would be going on anyway.
'The licence fee is generating so
much money for the BBC, while
commercial rivals struggle with
advertising revenues, that they
can agree to pay more than anyone
John Beyer of pressure group
Mediawatch UK said: 'My worry
is what other types of programme
would suffer as a consequence of
this high expenditure.'
TV companies interested in the
Champions League rights were
believed to have met UEFA representatives
The BBC refused to comment
on the issue and any potential bid
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