Sky Night and Day for Masters?

Beware viewers in Britain currently enjoying the BBC coverage of the Masters from Augusta. Rejoice viewers in Britain currently throwing things at the television set whenever Peter Alliss speaks. 

The never ending merry go-round of TV sports coverage has seen Sky usurped by the Irish newcomer Setanta Sports in the race for USPGA coverage and the FA Cup this year.

Now Sky looks like it will struggle off the ropes and fight back – and the Masters is heading up the hit list. 

The BBC’s relationship with the powers that be at Augusta has always been cordial to the point of affection.

The BBC’s reputation as a bastion of decent, old fashioned values satisfied the traditionalists at Augusta National. The tournament’s insistence on allowing only four hours of live coverage satisfied the BBC’s need to keep scheduling disruption to a minimum. 

But Augusta’s new chairman is Billy Paine. And Billy Paine masterminded the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, an event commonly regarded as the most wantonly commercial sporting extravaganza in history.

Unlike his predecessor, Hootie Johnson, Paine is likely to have his head turned by Sky’s dollars – and wall to wall coverage will soon follow. Which all adds up to bad news for Gary Lineker and Alliss, but good news for golf fans who shell out for Sky’s services. 

Of course, for the traditionalists that find something comforting in Augusta’s lack of concern for the ways of the modern world it might be a little disconcerting.

But money talks and few people will understand that better than Billy Paine when he sits down at the negotiating table with Sky.

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