Punters enraged by ATV blunder

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 January, 1996, 12:00am

IT'S not often the sports-viewing public get up in arms enough to contact this column but there are a few subjects which do provoke such strong feelings.

One is scheduling errors - you know, you're expecting a soccer match to start at 1 am and switch on to find it's nearly over or find a message saying it will start in two hours time.

The most inflammatory topic, however, is racing and woe betide the television company whose incompetence or bad luck interferes with the punters' sacred right to make a buck.

Cause of much chagrin this week was ATV's coverage of Wednesday's meeting at Happy Valley.

In race four Basil Marcus came a cropper, falling in what seemed a nasty fashion when his mount, Striking Distance, stumbled. ATV jumped the gun and declared Marcus would not be riding his subsequent scheduled mount, Fat City, in the next race.

But Marcus showed true grit, saddled up and actually won the fifth event.

Unfortunately, ATV's earlier premature announcement had caused some punters to discount Fat City from their calculations.

As one disgruntled bettor put it: 'If I thought Marcus was riding I would definitely have included him.' WHARF Cable Sports (the station that often gets mistaken for ESPN) did soccer fans proud last week by showing two FA Cup third-round replays live - Sunderland v Manchester United, and Newcastle v Chelsea.

Cable Sports are doing an excellent job forging an identity separate from ESPN, especially in soccer where they feature action from Japan, Germany and France.

The only pity was that these English FA Cup matches were such late additions to the schedules that their audiences were less than they should have been.

Part of the problem is that Cable Sports don't rate a spot in the daily listings of any major English-language publication.

Anyway, next week it's more live FA Cup action with Cable showing Reading v Manchester United in the fourth round at 11 pm on Saturday January 27. United's Premier League clash at West Ham is also live on ESPN tomorrow at 2.55 am.

WHILE praising Cable Sports I must pull up its sister channel Cineplex, the pay-per-view outlet which usually shows movies but occasionally ventures into sports events.

Lately they have been plugging a series of US College Football Bowl games. The games all occurred around New Year's Day so they lack the appeal of a live event and hold interest for diehard fans only. But if any floating voters out there were contemplating booking a game the in-house commercials would be enough to put them off.

Firstly, all the accompanying action clips are from an NFL game - the Bills and the Dolphins in the play-off wild card - rather than from actual college teams.

And secondly, the ad blurb suggests they don't really understand what they're selling, which is confirmed when the voiceover signs off by extolling viewers to book now for 'Florida State Vee Ess Notre Dame' or 'Nebraska Vee Ess Florida' or 'Virginia Tech Vee Ess Texas'.

The mysterious Vee Ess is their version of the abbreviation vs which more commonly reads as 'versus', 'against' or just plain 'v'.