THE OPEN

R&A chief brands BBC coverage 'tired and outdated'

Martin Slumbers

The chief executive of the R&A, Martin Slumbers, has described the BBC’s coverage of the Open Championship as ‘tired and outdated’.

Speaking ahead of this week’s event at Royal Birkdale, Slumbers said that he had been happy with the outcome of the decision to award live broadcast rights for golf’s oldest major to Sky Sports in advance of last year’s championship at Royal Troon – and, in doing so, aimed a not-so-subtle barb at the Beeb.

"I think when we moved last year, we took what was frankly a fairly tired and outdated broadcast and turned it into absolutely world class and raised the whole level of the way it was shown," said Slumbers. 

"I think that was a combination and a partnership of those organisations with the R&A that I think has truly improved how people are watching golf."

Martin Slumbers

Pointing to the fact that Sky's maiden Open broadcast won golf's first-ever BAFTA award earlier this year, he added: "The world of media has changed out of all recognition in the last 20 years. I think the world of TV has changed and is going to change even more, and I don't think anyone knows exactly where it's going. 

"We're very comfortable working with a partner that really understands the technology, they understand golf, and they understand how they can help us showcase this fantastic championship to the world."

Slumbers also reiterated his stance that having the Open on a free-to-air broadcaster has no positive effect on the number of people playing the game, saying he "doesn't buy the argument around participation and reach".

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"It is clearly good to have more reach," he added. "But The Open is a global product. It's not just a UK product. We touched 600 million households last year with The Open Championship in multiple countries all around the world. This is a global event."

Slumbers’ comments came just hours after news broke that this year’s US PGA Championship is likely to go in the opposite broadcast direction, switching from Sky Sports to the BBC. 

This news is being heralded as a massive coup for the BBC - which has seen its rights to live televised golf all but completely obliterated in recent years – as well a huge embarrassment to Sky Sports, which launched its first golf-specific channel only last week.

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