F1 fans treated to sounds of silence from STAR

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 1996, 12:00am

THE sound you didn't hear yesterday was that of Formula One engines revving.

For several years now STAR has provided reliable coverage of all the season's races.

But suddenly that has ground to a dead stop. Yesterday the F1 season got underway in Melbourne but viewers in Hong Kong were unable to see it.

Amidst the month of World Cup cricket it was easy to overlook the total absence of Grand Prix previews on the channel.

The reason is that STAR failed to negotiate a deal with the rights holders.

It's amazing considering the worldwide appeal of F1 - last year's races attracted a bigger total television audience than the 1994 soccer World Cup. STAR is still holding out hope that a deal will be reached.

In the meantime, ebullient studio anchor Jonathan Green and his lively assortment of colourful sidekicks will be able to rest on race days and they may have only the Macau Grand Prix to talk about this year. They still have the motorbikes as some consolation but I can't exactly see them doing wheelies about that. STAR has at least managed to avoid ruffling the feathers of the region's rugby fans.

Rumours had been circulating for weeks that STAR was going to show badminton on Saturday instead of the final round of Five Nations matches (England v Ireland; Wales v France).

Having shown live games from each of the previous four rounds this would have been the height of absurdity, not to mention extremely self-destructive. If Scotland had beaten England in the dull Calcutta Cup encounter last week, thereby sealing the championship, it may have been understandable if not excusable to not show the last round. However, England's victory at Murrayfield leaves three sides (the Auld Enemy and France) still in the title hunt and both matches in the final round very much 'live'.

STAR staved off the prospect of street riots by the chappies of the rugger set, however, by revising their schedule to include the live rugby matches after all.

The Twickenham match will be shown live at 10.30 pm, immediately followed by delayed showing of the Wales v France clash. THE cricket World Cup entered its serious, knockout phase the past weekend and continues today with the quarter-finals between South Africa and West Indies, and Australia and New Zealand.

Once again the Indian fans provided the most colourful spectacle, this time in their heroes' day-night win over Pakistan on Saturday. Flags flew, fireworks ignited and fruit was hurled. THAT match was part of a continuous binge of live action on Saturday. After the cricket it was over to Cable TV which had two English FA Cup matches showing simultaneously on different channels and each one was a cracker - Chelsea v Wimbledon and Spurs v Forest.

Cable kept up the FA Cup theme with Leeds v Liverpool last night and they will complete the quarter-finals with Manchester United v Southampton (tonight) and Forest v Villa early Thursday morning.