One step forward, two steps back

The NRL has taken a baby step forward by awarding Monday night football coverage rights to Triple M and two massive steps back by abandoning their heartland areas in the bush.

Country folk without pay TV or internet coverage have no way of knowing who won the Monday night game until the next morning. The worst part of this debacle is that I don?t think many people were surprised by the decision of the NRL to once again shoot themselves in the foot.

Outside of Sydney, you would need Austar or Foxtel to watch the game or the internet to follow it online via websites such as League Unlimited or via streaming audio on the Triple M website. For those in the bush with no pay tv or internet, well you my friends, you have been left to suck eggs once again as no one wants to know about you when it comes to Rugby League.

Strangely at other times, these commercial entities claim to be champions of the battlers in the bush. Only when it suits them it seems!

The NRL have again awarded 2GB the exclusive rights to call Rugby League and they treat the rights like a toy they don?t want to share with their friends. They lock it away, play with it when they want and toss it in the corner when boredom strikes knowing full well everyone else wants to play with it. We are left with coverage from a non-commercial station in the ABC while the exclusive rights holder prefers a lifestyle show over the footy.

I recall Ray Hadley saying previously they (2GB) would like to open up the rights as they were that confident of their ability to retain their market share in a non-exclusive, competitive environment. Oh how the mighty have fallen! If being insulted and fat jokes are your go, then you?d better look away right about now.

I suspect if the rights were non-exclusive Ray and his vaudeville sideshow may have some explaining to do to the shareholders of Macquarie Radio as to why their fortress was turned into a sandcastle in quick time. If people were given the choice I suspect they would switch off in droves to listen to something with a little more substance rather than crude humour and tired old ditties.

The NRL are obviously happy with the fact 2GB give us a live call of two games per week with the Sunday game always a Sydney fixture because their head caller, Ray Hadley, now does the morning shift with 2GB and can?t travel interstate to call the game. More often than not we are left with the third choice game being called in Sydney when the match of the round is left to an around the grounds, intermittent update.

Again, should we be surprised as Hadley is against a team from Melbourne participating in the NRL for what reason I have no idea. Could it be he feels a team on the Central Coast would be more beneficial to John Singleton, majority shareholder in Macquarie Radio and underwriter of the Central Coast bid for inclusion to the NRL?

There is just so much wrong with the latest broadcasting rights deal that if this were a government department a royal commission wouldn?t be out of place.

The AFL have set the pace by awarding commercial radio rights to four commercial stations that ensures the people in the bush get the opportunity to listen to the game on a weekly basis. Unless you live Sydney or Brisbane, as a league fan you are stuffed and this unacceptable scenario is in play for three years.

The NRL have clearly failed in their duty to the fans regarding radio coverage and while the bottom line of the game is important, the expectations of the fans seem to be at the very bottom of the NRL?s list of responsibilities.

Am I surprised? No.

I expected nothing more and that is real crime here. Fans expectations of the ruling body are dropping by the day but so long as the powers that be continue to count their money, I doubt they would care if games were played in empty stadiums to sub-standard media broadcasts.

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