Britain’s ITV earns viewers’ ire for missing goal

By Venkata Vemuri, IANS
Monday, June 14, 2010

LONDON - Robert Green isn’t the only one to miss a goal. Britain’s ITV hi-definition (HD) channel missed one too and has been at the receiving end since then. What’s worse, some punters had actually bet on the channel doing just that.

ITV faced embarrassment and the ire of over 1.5 million viewers for its failure to screen England’s first goal of the World Cup on its high-definition channel Saturday.

The producers switched to a car advertisement just as Steven Gerrard’s foot came into contact with the ball. By the time the match came on, the English players were already celebrating.

The World Cup was seen as a key test for the HD technology — with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom promising the biggest development in sport coverage since the 1970 World Cup was screened in colour.

And believe it or not, betting agents Paddy Powers had taken around a dozen bets, mainly of 5 and 10 pounds, on the coverage being interrupted. The gamblers took up Power’s odds of 8-1 that an ITV live game would be interrupted. The agents never dreamt they would have to pay out so soon.

A spokesperson told The Daily Mail: “We didn’t think we would have to pay out as soon as the first England match.”

The fact that HD broadcasts are screened four seconds later than conventional television also fuelled conspiracy theories.

A saboteur could have seen England score on a regular TV channel and then pulled the plug to take advantage of the fact an HD viewer would not have known England were ahead.

ITV has been apologizing for the howler ever since, but there’s no let up in people’s anger. Social networking cites are still full of them.

One poster, Sheffield_UK, wrote on Twitter: “ITV black out the England goal and spoil the whole evening.”

Another, Paul-Durand, said: “ITV HD is a joke. First England goal of the World Cup, and there was a Hyundai advert on.”

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