By Terence Dooley
Channel 5, or an employee with twitchy Twitter fingers, broke our collective hearts yesterday by Tweeting that boxing might be removed from their schedules. The message has since been deleted. Today the network moved to scotch rumours of a cull by confirming to Peter White of www.broadcastnow.co.uk that they are 'in talks' with Hennessy Sports over the rights to broadcast Tyson Fury's April 20th meeting with Steve Cunningham, which takes place at Madison Square Garden's Theater in New York.
This latest develop will be music to the ears of boxing fans, who were seriously considering a boycott of all the station's non-boxing programming, until they realised that this boycott is already in place, largely due to the woeful nature of the station's current non-boxing coverage. It leaves us in the dark over whether Fury, who has boxed on Channel 5 during his recent fights, will appear on Channel 5 or whether Hennessy Sports, Channel 5 regulars, will continue to provide shows for the station. Something needs to be done about the confusion — a statement, perhaps?
The real shame in all of this is that, should Channel 5 walk away, it would be a massive blow to the sport. Boxing can still pull in punters, Fury's 2011 decision win over Dereck Chisora raked in a peak audience of 2.9 million, with an overall average of 2.26 million (figures courtesy of Digitalspy.co.uk's Paul Millar). As broadcasting legend Jim Rosenthal said: "When done right boxing can pull in big audiences". It is therefore a real shame that the sport is so fragmented and unruly, which makes it a hard sell for terrestrial TV, especially when you can put shows on perpetual repeat and still do good business. Yes, BBC, we are talking to you — one million plus viewers for Dad's Army repeats isn't adequate justification for frequent repeats of this classic, and hilarious, show.
BoxingScene cannot confirm nor deny persistent rumours that Channel 5 will be pulling the plug on beloved soap opera Family Affairs midway through the next episode.
This one is a real cliffhanger.
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