Athens, GA (Mar 6, 2009) - In times of turmoil and troubled times, people often turn to the world of sport as a form of diversion. And when their sport is messed with or taken away, they are not happy. Fans without cable or satellite are not happy the the Bowl Championship Series games are moving to cable only. Fans of the National Football League are not happy when they cannot see a NFL Network on their cable system.
When the voters are not happy, the politicians in the United States launch inquiries and hearings to appease the electorate. But the electorate really has no voice because lobbyists and corporations have the real power. "We the People" really have no direct voice or line to the the President.
Meanwhile across the pond, British racing fans are in a lather. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has plans to cut the number of horse racing evens they telecast on 2010 to fourteen. So what do they get to do that Americans do not have the real opportunity to do? They get to petition Number10 Downing Street directly, calling on the Prime Minister and Parliament to redress their grievance against the government owned and subsidized via a direct online petition.
an official web site of the Prime Minister of Great Britain
Their demands are simple, and include a plea for a different kind of economic stimulus package from the Prime Minister:
Ten years ago the BBC covered 79 days of horseracing; this year it’s 27; by 2010 it will be only 14 unless the BBC can be reminded of its obligations as a public service broadcaster and scraps plans for emasculating its reportage of a sport which appeals to the widest demographic of all.
The consequences go well beyond the leisure preferences of the six million TV licence payers that annually visit racecourses.
By cherry picking the dual purpose “social” events such as the Derby, Royal Ascot and the Grand National (which attracted viewing figures of 10 million this time) the BBC is reckless as to the future of the supporting tier. Any reduction in terrestrial exposure will hasten the contraction of the industry, jeopardising 20,000 full-time jobs and the racing industry tax contribution of £280 million a year.
If the BBC saw value in keeping horse racing as a staple, they would, as a sound business decision. Unless all 6,000,000 race fans sign the position, there is little doubt that they have made the right decision.
Whether or not their claim of economic death for the horse racing industry holds any water is irrelevant for this discussion. What is cool here is that citizens of Great Britain have a direct channel to voice their feelings. Even if it is window dressing, it is a window that "We the People" of the United States do not have at our disposal.
Maybe if we all "tweet" the man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Comcast and the NFL Network will start to play nice?
The BBC Horse Racing Petition