TELEVISION bosses are such bullies. After they've paid their money for the broadcast rights to a particular sporting event, they proceed to have their wicked way with it and expect no questions to be asked. Olympic athletes have had to race before breakfast, cricketers have worn colourful attire that would shame a peacock and World Cup footballers were made to mimic mad dogs and Englishmen by playing in the midday sun, all for the convenience of TV schedules and ratings. Even more ridiculous, golfer Gary Player was requested during a Skins game to 'take that putt again, sir, the video cassette ran out' and Hong Kong Sevens organisers were asked to 'move' the pitch because the centre line was not plumb with the cameras. But, not content with coercing sports to move the goalposts, TV companies are now trying to buy them so they can shift them at will. Rupert Murdoch, already regarded as the patron saint of cheque-book journalism, is acting as some sort of Messiah to rugby league in Australia with his TV companies representing the promised land. Unlike other multi-millionaires with sporting connections, Murdoch has no interest in rugby league other than financial. He has not admitted to a lifelong love of the Brisbane Broncos or an unfulfilled desire to play on the wing for Australia, so he is not using the likes of Bradley Clyde, Willie Carne and Glenn Lazarus as surrogates through which to satisfy some long-held ambition. He wants to use them to improve TV ratings, just as his acquisition of the rights to televise American Football at a price which astounded media observers has boosted the fortunes of the Fox Network. The inherent danger is that, without an official body to rein in Murdoch and his cohorts, made-for-TV rugby league could soon become an unrecognisable form of the sport. Once you've hijacked a sport, which in essence is what Murdoch's News Corporation is trying to do, all controls go out of the window and fancy, Fantasy League ideas march through the door. If it will make for better TV, they can cut the number of players, increase the value of tries, introduce advert-friendly time-outs and play the game in four or more periods not boring old halves. Rugby League in Australia may have been crying out for change but creating a civil war, with TV profits as the main motive, surely was not the proper way to go about it.