BBC loses British Open rights

2015-02-03 19:05
British Open (Getty Images)

London - BBC television saw another major sports competition disappear from its roster of live events when it was revealed Tuesday that from 2017 the British Open golf tournament would be broadcast exclusively live by satellite broadcaster Sky on a five-year deal

The announcement by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the tournament organisers and the sport's ruling body, will see the end of 61 years of live, free-to-air, coverage on the BBC when Sky broadcasts the 146th British Open at Royal Birkdale, north-west England, from July 16-23, 2017. 

However, the BBC will still offer a daily highlights programme on television and live coverage on radio and online.

Meanwhile, the BBC will have live coverage of this year's edition at St Andrews and the 2016 tournament at Royal Troon, another of the Scottish courses on the British Open list.

"We believe this is the best result for The Open and for golf," said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.

"Importantly, the new agreement will enable us to increase substantially our support for golf in the United Kingdom and Ireland."

But with golf participation in Britain already in decline, England's Lee Westwood labelled the change of Open broadcaster "an absolute disgrace".

Now attention is set to turn to Rugby Union's Six Nations Championship as the next event the BBC could 'lose' when the broadcast rights come up for renewal in 2017.

As a result of Britain's 'crown jewels' list, certain sporting fixtures such as the FA Cup final must be shown live on one of the country's free-to-air channels.   

But as well as facing competition from Sky, the BBC has seen terrestrial rivals such as Channel Four take over "protected events" such as horse-racing's Grand National.

Read more on:    european tour  |  british open  |  golf

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