…As Live Sport Returns To FTA In UK
By Jonathan Easton
Live sport will make a return to free-to-air television in the UK from June 1 with ITV 4’s coverage of Championship League Snooker.
The broadcaster announced that it will be the first to show live sport on free-to-air TV since the coronavirus pandemic brought the sports world to a halt in mid-March.
The competition will be played without a crowd from the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes with all 128 World Snooker Tour card holders invited to participate.
The initial phase of the tournament will take place from June 1-8, with a second phase on June 9-10 and a final group on June 11.
All involved in the event will be regularly tested and housed at on-site accommodation with participants only being allowed to leave once they have been eliminated from the tournament.
ITV said that its coverage will be coordinated remotely following coronavirus safety guidelines. Commentators will cover the event from the venue while on-screen presenters operating from their homes.
Barry Hearm, chairman of event organiser Matchroom Sport, said: “During the challenging times of the past few weeks we have examined the opportunities which still exist and worked relentlessly towards the goal of getting our tour going again. While most other sports remain sidelined, we are ready to return from June . This sends out a message to the sporting world that snooker is at the forefront of innovation.
“I am confident that there is no other major sport which can meet health and safety criteria on isolation and social distancing as stringently as snooker can, so we are able to return more quickly than others.”
Controller of ITV Sport Production, Mark Demuth, said: “We know fans have been missing live action since the lockdown has been in place, so we’re delighted to bring snooker back, marking the return of live sport to free-to-air TV. Behind the scenes, our team has been working with the event organisers to ensure strict adherence to guidelines to safeguard the well-being of all involved, which is our priority.” https://www.digitaltveurope.com