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Burnham For Mayor

Friday, 8 July 2011

An open letter to Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson
Director-General, BBC
Broadcasting House,
Portland Place
London W1A 1AA

8th July 2011

Dear Mark

As you know, tomorrow is a big day for English football as one of our national teams plays in the quarter finals of a World Cup. However, unlike some of the other nations involved, this match will not be carried on one of the main TV channels of our national broadcaster.

We are writing to express our disappointment about this and to urge you to reconsider this scheduling decision in the 24 hours before the match.

As you know, big sporting events play a huge role in inspiring young people to get involved in sport. As a society, we face a particular challenge in encouraging girls to play sport. We believe our media industry needs to do much more to promote women's sport.

We know that it will be possible to watch tomorrow's match on the red button and on-line. This is welcome, but only helps those who go looking for it and will not bring this occasion to a much wider audience. It will not build momentum and public support behind our national team as they seek to progress in the competition.
It is argued that there is not sufficient interest to justify screening on one of the main channels. We don't accept this. There is huge interest in this match. The England team's first three matches have been watched by around 4 million viewers, on German TV. It is also true that exposure to sport helps build profile and interest in the personalities. Just as the country became interested in women's Curling a few years ago, it will take to women's football if properly promoted. Other countries are gaining huge TV audiences for their nation's matches, with 16.6 million viewers watching Germany's second group game against Nigeria.

As things stand, we feel the BBC are missing a major opportunity to engage the country in an important sporting occasion. We simply cannot accept that showing a repeat of Flog It! is a better service to Licence Fee payers.

We hope you will consider this request and make a change to your schedule so that your viewers are able to enjoy watching England's women play in the World Cup.

Kind regards

ANDY BURNHAM                     
Member of Parliament for Leigh    

Member of Parliament for Chatham & Aylesford