The announcement of BBC working with UK Athletics once again is key to the sport’s development. In the second-largest market for track & field in the world, that the UK was not being shown on BBC and more importantly, that BBC seemed rather nonchalante about the situation was a huge issue.
How had it gotten to that situation? I had watched with concern, the changing winds at British Athletics beginning with the release of Fast Track Agency in 2013, and a rather amused attitude towards sponsors and media. I had seen it in other countries, before as well.
There seems, at times that federations get to a point and forget that their job is not just to collect medals, but to build interest in the sport and give sponsors a value for their marketing dollars. An interested and updated media, an open door with media, where one knows the problems before they happen, and a real ability to communicate with sponsors are key for a sports federation’s survival.
London Anniversary Games, photo by British Athletics
Ian Beattie and Mark Munro should be congratulated on bringing the BBC back into the athletics fold.
Athletics back on BBC
Dina Asher-Smith, photo by British Athletics
UK Athletics (UKA) has confirmed the BBC as the broadcast partner for their 2022 Major Events series. BBC Sport will bring the following 4 UKA events to fans via a combination of network television and digital coverage on platforms including BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website, and the red button.
- Muller Indoor Grand Prix Birmingham, 19th February 2022
- UK Athletics Indoor Championships Birmingham: 26-27th February 2022
- Muller Birmingham Diamond League: 21st May 2022
- Muller UK Athletics Championships Manchester: 24-26th June 2022
Interim CEO Mark Munro is quoted in the press release: “We are delighted to once again be partnering with the BBC for our 2022 Major events series. Athletics is given a brilliant platform by BBC Sport and we’re looking forward to working with the team there to bring great athletics performances into people’s homes in the year ahead. The audience reach of their website, red button, and iPlayer platforms coupled with the main network means our athletes’ journeys can be followed in a number of ways by fans of the sport, and in this stellar year for athletics, it is more important than ever to maximize the exposure that the four major track and field championships will bring.”
A fast 200meters, with Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Dina Asher-Smith, photo by British Athletics
While it is fair to say, “He would say that wouldn’t he!”, there is more to it than that. It was one of the criticisms of the previous CEO, Jo Coates, that she failed to secure a TV deal and didn’t seem to think it was important. Mark Munro was always clear that he believed it was very important. When he and new Chair, Ian Beattie spoke to the athletics writers in November 2021, Mark, said: “I think we’ve all probably grown up watching athletics on the BBC. For us, it’s a shop window for the sport. We are very keen if we can find a way forward, to continue working in partnership with BBC. Hopefully, we can get athletics back on BBC”.
To which Ian Beattie added: “We would like to be on BBC because we think it’s a partnership that served athletics well. I think they do athletics brilliantly and we would like to be part of that”.