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The BBC’s Video Nasty: Newcastle bias

21 August 2009 by Danny Hall

When Chris Foy’s final whistle reverbarated around Villa Park in May and Newcastle United were relagated to the Coca-Cola Championship, Toon fans would have been forgiven for fearing their club was beginning to fade into footballing obscurity.

Luckily for them – and frustratingly for others – there is very little chance of that now happening, with the producers of the BBC’s ‘Football League Show’ apparently insistant on giving Newcastle disproportanate coverage at every opportunity.

Newcastle’s first game in English football’s second tier at West Brom, for example, was always going to be a big draw; and there can be few complaints that this was chosen as the first of 10 live games shown on the BBC.

But then, where is the logic in then making this the featured match later that night, and giving extended coverage to a game that had already been shown earlier that day? Therefore relegating the thrilling South Yorkshire derby between Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, to a couple of minutes highlights which hardly gave adequate coverage to Barnsley’s fighting comeback to clinch a draw.

The following week, when their 3-0 victory over Reading was only marginally more entertaining than the BBC switching to a film of a woman on the toilet during the League Two round up, guess which game attracted the most coverage? You guessed it; Newcastle v Reading.

There can be bo doubt that Newcastle United are the Championship’s big draw this season; but can it really be fair that the only realistic chance a club such as Scunthorpe or Peterborough has of being the featured match is when they play Newcastle? I’m quite sure that the TV Licence fee is the same in Scunthorpe as it is in Newcastle, so where is the equality there?


Did you see me on the TV, ref? Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi

The BBC’s remit as a public service states it’s intention “to bring audiences from disparate communities together to share significant events in the life of the UK. The BBC’s coverage of sport in particular has a key role here.”

It would be interesting to know who decides that a 1-1 draw between Newcastle and West Brom is more significant than Cardiff’s 4-0 opening day victory over Scunthorpe, which was their first outing at their new stadium?

Newcastle’s impressive, unbeaten start has consolidated my early-season opinion that they will walk all over the Championship and be back in the top flight last season. But a more conservative prediction is that if the BBC producers continue to favour Newcastle United over the league’s 23 other clubs, then they may find that their viewing figures are solely restricted to a demographic in the North East..


Drab 0-0 at Scunthorpe? 25
minutes of coverage then, lads

The Football League has long been hailed as the working man’s version of the Premier League – where ‘real’ football, at least what can be construed as such in these modern times, still exists. With choices like these, however, it seems that these views are fading fast.

Oh, and by the way, live football next returns to the BBC on September 26 when Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town will play.. er, do I even need to say?

4 Comments »

  • I*T*P*L said:

    Interesting stuff Danny. I’ve also noticed the Newcastle love-in on the BBC, and it seems to me there’s a number of reason, some footballing, some not, that they repeatedly choose to show them:

    * The novelty factor of Newcastle in the Championship – which will surely soon wear thin.

    * The players on show – Newcastle still have some on the Championship’s best talent, so it makes sense for them to want to showcase it if they want to present the Football League in the best possible light.

    * The boardroom situation – The Mike Ashley saga makes an interesting sub-plot to any match.

    * Shearer – He works for the BBC, he used to manage and play for Newcastle, they’ve got a ready made person to comment on them for a few minutes.

    It is annoying, but at least they present it fairly with as much coverage of all the negatives at Newcastle at the moment as of their good performances. It certainly beats the “West Brom are the Brazil of the lower leagues” sick-making nonsense on the Championship every week two seasons ago.

    Hopefully over the course of the season it will all balance out.

  • Geordie said:

    Ok I’m biased, being a frustrated Toon supporter who lives just outside Newcastle.

    But let’s just imagine for awhile that we are non biased championship football TV producers who “lets say” spend our time pretending we support Man Utd, Chelsea Or Arsene all.

    We have a choice for our opening gambit

    Sheffield Wednesday V Barnsley OR West Brom v Newcastle Utd

    In your best non biased opinion … Which would you choose?

  • Thepassenger said:

    I think you have missed the point of the WHOLE article Geordie. Few would doubt that the big pull from the opening day of the season was indeed West Brom v The Barcodes. However where do the Beeb get away with showing so many games featuring the mags.
    Newcastle fans see everything through a black and white stripped glaze, so I can’t blame them. However, where do people get to see the likes of West Brom, the Boro with Adam Johnsons great form, Cardiff and the goals of Chopra, a new look Sheff Utd team coming back from their losing play-off final last season… etc, etc, etc.

    Maybe i’m just a bitter Boro fan, sick to the back teeth of the lack of coverage my team gets no matter how well or poorly we happen to be doing or what is going on behind the scenes. I got used to the fact that unless we were getting stuffed by Chelsea or forcing a good result from the likes of Man U, Arsenal…, my team was going to be shown last on MOTD. However, even rising to second in the Championship the coverage is scant… I wonder how many more football fans are ready to boycott the Beeb’s coverage of the Football League show?

  • Jennifer said:

    I think this whole Newcastle love-in is a joke and really pees me off. i am a Plymouth fan, and they are rarely on the TV – admittedly it’s not the fanciest football we play or the most fantastic players we have…but for all those teams who have small budgets in the league – and who keep within them as much as possible (ie teams like us), I feel it should be shared out. It really grates to see Newcastle so many times. I think there are about 6 just between November to January, that’s not including the ones before November…We have been on TV once so far – against Nottingham Forest. Almost everyone seems to get more air time than us – but I just think it should be fairer across the board. More money going to the teams who dont spend more than they can afford. Maybe the neutral or Newcastle fan will love the Geordie fest, but surely it is common sense that they are outnmbered by the fans of all the other clubs who also deserve to be able to watch their team – or just more of the teams.. Even if it didn’t mean more time for Argyle, I would prefer to see a mixture of teams playing.

    We all love football – but we don’t all love the same team.

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