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    TV Schedules must rule....



    TV schedules must rule as rugby reaps the benefit
    <DIV =LeadPara>THIS may not come as too much of a surprise to anyone, and David Cameron will doubtless take great comfort from the fact, but clearly the rugby fraternity remain a pretty conservative bunch. In the Gareth Edwards bar at the Millennium Stadium at about half past five on Sunday afternoon, one of the main talking points was not the brilliance of some of the Welsh handling, or whether the Ireland Grand Slam dreams were rather inflated, but whether we should have been there at all. It's just not the same on a Sunday, ran the argument. </DIV>
    <DIV =LeadPara>Leaving Twickenham on Saturday, a man with a very red face and a clearly very patient wife at his side bellowed: "It's your bloody lot's fault we've got to be here next week at some damn stupid time [1.30 for those of you who haven't looked at your tickets yet].'' </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Now of course the one thing you cannot say in those circumstances - much though you'd like to - is that such a comment is in itself 'damn stupid'. You just smile, and say you wouldn't like to be in the Italians' shoes, and walk on in to the night. But it does seem remarkable that even after all this time, there remains a residual opposition to changes to the Six Nations schedule that have undoubtedly benefited the game as a whole on a considerable scale. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Nearly eight million people watched Jonny's heroics at Twickenham, well over five million the marvellous match at Cardiff. Put the product on at the right time, and the numbers are proportionally higher. And if that means France against Wales at eight o'clock on a Saturday night (as it does this year, at French TV's insistence), well that's too bad I'm afraid. These days we all get to see every game, which is more fun. There's more interest in the sport. More sponsorship. More revenue generally. And that means better stadiums, etc, etc. You've heard it and read it all before, but sometimes it bears repeating. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>There is one pretty sure bet though, and that is we won't be seeing a Six Nations game on a Monday night, which bizarrely remains the one evening of the week when the public as a whole seem steadfastly determined to withstand the television sporting steamroller. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Monday Night Football was a great American institution. For 36 years from 1970 it was the 'must see' sports show in the US, combining the weekend's main football match with huge slices of entertainment. It pioneered technological changes in broadcasting, including the enhanced use of slow-motion replays and computerised graphics. The game was the thing, but the programme was much more, to the point where everyone from Bill Clinton to Kermit the Frog appeared on it. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Memorably in 1973, a key element of one show was Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, giving play-by-play explanation of American football throughout the match to John Lennon. Last year alone, the guest list went from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Paris Hilton and all points in between. So when Sky came along, it was an obvious thing to do - replicate the Monday night experience. Except they didn't go down the 'celeb path' by inviting Tony Blair to explain the intricacies of the offside trap to Michael Jackson. And if we're honest, empty seats at Bolton or Middlesbrough don't really have that 'must-see' feel about them. This week, even as someone who passed many formative years watching Bristol City, I was not going to spend too long watching the Robins go bob-bob-bobbing along to Sc**thorpe. I may have started the match, but I was never going to finish it - not with a tribute to Magnus Magnusson on the other side. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Or, come to that, Corrie. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas><FONT si
    Seas suas agus troid!
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