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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Anyone for tennis?
Tim Henman
Why is this man's every move at Wimbledon deemed news by the BBC?

Some viewers have asked why Wimbledon seems to get an automatic slot in the main news bulletins on TV, often at the expense of other important sporting events.

In particular, they want to know why so much attention is paid to Tim Henman whether he's winning, losing or even just preparing for a match.

The editor of the One O'Clock News, Chris Rybczynski, appeared on the NewsWatch programme to answer some comments and questions from viewers.

Andy Butler said the news was like a billboard to highlight the fact that the BBC has the broadcast rights to the tournament. "Stop promoting your own programmes and give us some news," he demanded.

Chris Rybczynski replied:

There are certain sporting events in the year that have a particular resonance that very much cuts across all barriers and I think Wimbledon very much falls into that category.

It's one of those sporting events that's watched by millions of people and you can probably guarantee that of those millions of people there are quite a number who aren't diehard sports fans.

They essentially watch Wimbledon because they know it's got a sense of occasion to it, that it's a social as well as a cultural event, but they actually watch it because it's got excitement, it's got drama, it's got style, it's got flair and fashion.

And it's fantastic personalities, and personalities ultimately always sell stories.

Viewer Stuart Knight said: "News about how [Henman] managed to scrape through the first round was hardly the top sports story of the evening.

England cricketer Paul Collingwood
Paul Collingwood scored a century but failed to make the news bulletins

"England's cricket team, who were not mentioned, won emphatically, breaking records as they went - Paul Collingwood becoming the first man in cricketing history to score a century and take six wickets in a one-day match. Surely this is more worthy of news than Tim Henman's efforts."

Rybczynski replied:

Tim Henman is one of those stories in which everyone is interested. You either like him or hate him, but you're very much interested in what will happen to him.

This was a first round match in which he was expected to go very easily into the second round and it became a complete cliffhanger... it was a nailbiter.

One minute he was coasting along quite nicely and the next minute he was practically going out in the first round. Now that is interesting.

He managed to turn it round, he managed to get through and he managed to win.

And I think that's really just a story, yet again, of how human achievement can turn adversity to good advantage.

We did cover this one-day series quite extensively over the weekend. We covered it when Bangladesh won against Australia and when England won against Australia as well at the weekend.

We took the judgement on Monday that there were other stories which required more depth, more analysis and we decided that Tim Henman was something that would have more resonance with a large majority of people.

It wasn't just sports fans, it was everybody that would be interested in that.

I think we're completely comfortable with the decision we made. This was a one-day series, it's a warm-up for the Test series later in the summer and the Test series we will cover in great detail and quite extensively and that really will be England's test.

J Fletcher said: "I would have thought internationals in any major sport involving any of the home countries should get at least a mention. It's your duty."

Rybczynski replied:

I don't think it's our duty. I think we have to take account of what else is happening that day and we have to make a judgement.

Every morning we are given a news agenda of dozens and dozens of stories not only from Britain but from around the world and we have to make judgements which of those stories go into our programmes.

They're really difficult judgements to make and sometimes people will agree with us and a lot of the time people will disagree with us and we can only hope that the disagreements might basically change into agreements the following day.

The news value of celebrities
09 Mar 05 |  Notes


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