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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Why Grandstand is going
BBC director of sport Roger Mosey
Roger Mosey
BBC Director of Sport

So is Grandstand facing the final whistle? A straight answer: yes, it is.

But there is no doubt about the future of BBC Sport - and what's prompting the question about Grandstand is the ambition of making BBC Sport as a whole better, more exciting and completely in tune with our audiences in a digital age.

There will also, unequivocally, be more Sport available in total from the BBC.

Like everyone in BBC Sport, I'm proud of what Grandstand has achieved over the years. It pioneered much of what we take for granted these days in televised sport.

But a great programme is best served by being honest about its future as well as its past, and it's also wise to listen to what our viewers are saying.

There are two kinds of Grandstand.

  • Some have traditionally been built round big events - the Six Nations, Wimbledon or the Olympics. In these cases we think the best option is to brand our coverage simply as the event itself, and we've been doing it recently with the Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. No "Grandstand" listed in Radio Times, and viewers absolutely clear about what they're getting and when.

  • The other main kind of Grandstand is when it has a mix of sports - as in a recent edition with highlights of the Australian Open tennis interspersed with horse racing. Here our audience are telling us that they want more of each individual sport, but the combination of the two doesn't really please anyone: tennis fans not unnaturally want tennis, while racing enthusiasts want to keep their eye on the horses.

    We believe we won't serve our audiences properly unless we're ambitious - and also free-thinking about the way the world is changing

    That's why we're moving rapidly towards more interactive and red button options that deliver what you want at a time that's convenient to you.

    The net result is that Grandstand as a brand doesn't add as much as we'd like to the reputation of the BBC, and it's seen as being more about our heritage than about the opportunities of the 21st century.

    Sport shouldn't be defined by what's on one television channel on a Saturday afternoon, and we want the freedom to schedule more events where viewers want them.

    We're announcing a wide range of recommendations on BBC Sport, and in any outcome there will still be as much sport as usual on BBC Television on weekend afternoons and throughout the schedule - with even more options available to digital viewers and listeners.

    But the aim in our review of BBC Sport's output is to offer excellence in all our media; to make sure people can find our output among thousands of channels and billions of internet pages; to support a wide range of sports; and to be world-class in our sports journalism and sports news.

    We're confident about the future because we have a great portfolio of sports rights. BBC Sport has the television rights to the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 and, best of all, to London 2012. We have the World Cups from this year until 2014, alongside major UK sporting landmarks like the FA Cup, Wimbledon, the Grand National and Open Golf.

    But we believe we won't serve our audiences properly unless we're ambitious - and also free-thinking about the way the world is changing.

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