MEDIAWATCH : STEPHEN WATSON’S CADDYSHACK

In television, it always pays to have a catchphrase. For BBCNI’s Stephen Watson, the catchphrase he appears to be working on is “I’m Stephen Watson, and i’m reporting live from a golf club”

Last week, Watson was in Limerick giving us the lowdown on a Pro-Am Celebrity All-Star event. Yes, a celebrity golf event, a golfing equivalent of Soccer Aid, if you will.

I don’t know which is more depressing, the fact that BBCNI consider this to be a sporting event (It’s not, it’s a showbiz get-together) or the fact that they consider it to be a Northern Ireland story.

I’ve said it before in previous blogs, that i’m not arrogant or ignorant to suggest that there should be no Republic of Ireland stories in the Northern Ireland, absolutely not, but there needs to clear distinguishing between what is relevent and what isn’t. To include a story about a showbiz get-together in Limerick as a ‘local’ story is poor editorial judgement.

Northern Ireland’s A-List golf starts, Graeme ‘G-Mac’ McDowell and Rory McIlroy were there, but their presence only got a mere mention as a box ticking exercise to justify the expense travelling to this event, as Watson spent most of his report stalking Tiger Woods, bypassing the major issues to ask him if he was enjoying his stay in Ireland.

Brilliant, you get interview time with one of the world’s most high profile sportsmen and all you find out is wether he has enjoyed his time in the Republic of Ireland. I guess you could say the licence fee payers got value for money with that one.

From the glamour of being patronised by Tiger Woods to sitting in an empty terrace at The Oval in the space of 24 hours, such is the life of a sports reporter, as he was covering the non-payment of Glentoran player’s wages.

It is often said that our local media are quick to swarm like flies around a bad news story, but in fairness, there was nothing over the top about the story.

It was interesting though, to notice the coverage to recent onfield violence in GAA in comparision to the reaction to the Newry-Larne game in January, reported in a calm manner in comparison to the hysteria of the Newry-Larne business where it seemed to be an opportunity to stick the boot into football, rather than report the story of what happened in the Newry-Larne game, and how both clubs are to be punished for their offences.

It did seem bizarre that having reported on the Glentoran story on Wednesday night, with a key part of the report being that the players would be having a meeting after the following night’s UEFA Cup tie, that there was no follow-up report on the Thursday night, especially as it was such a key aspect of the story they were covering.

Even more disappointingly that night, was the lack of a mention on BBC Newsline of the result of the Skonto Riga v Portadown game.

With the match kicking-off at 5pm, it was always going to present a problem for the two local TV broadcasters, especially with the logistic issues of getting pictures of the game from Latvia, but credit to UTV for actually reading out the latest score at the end of their show.

It wasn’t a lot, but it was a nice gesture that they took the time to keep up to date with the score to the last possible moment and read it out on air. How hard would it have been for the BBC to do likewise?

In fairness to UTV, since I criticised them for their obsession with the England football team during the World Cup, they have actually upped the game and improved their local football coverage on UTV Live.

The past week has seen a report on Portadown’s win in Riga featuring an interview with Ronnie McFall and a preview then report on Linfield’s tie with Rosenborg.

Sadly, Linfield’s well deserved draw with higher ranked (and with a far superior Champions League pedigree) opponents barely made a ripple at BBCNI as tonight Stephen Watson had swapped Limerick for St Andrew’s for his latest licence fee funded golf themed jolly-up hard hitting sports report.

Like I said, i’ve no problem with golf being on local sports bulletins as long as it’s newsworthy, and the progess of McDowell and McIlroy is newsworthy.

However, with the competition being broadcast live on the BBC network, you have to question the need to send a reporter there, when they can use BBC pictures and interviews voiced-over in a studio in Belfast.

From there, they then moved to a story about economic regeneration in Monaghan as a result of hosting GAA matches.

Now, i’ve no problem with BBCNI covering GAA on their sports bulletins, but Monaghan? Seriously?

Again, another example of BBCNI being unable to judge what stories are relevent and irrelevent.

Sadly, that wrapped up their sports bulletin. No action of the Linfield game, not a mention, nor was their a mention of Portadown and Cliftonville’s European matches. Unbelievable.

I’m not arrogant enough to suggest that football should get mass coverage and top billing, but last night’s game was newsworthy and a lot of Irish League fans (and yes, even those who don’t support Linfield) would have tuned in expecting to see a report on the game.

It was a club from Northern Ireland, playing in an international competition, and not only that, holding their own.

Sadly, the BBC saw fit to slap the local game in the face by failing to find time in their flagship news programme for this game.

If this is what their football coverage is like when we are still technically in pre-season, I dread to think what their football coverage will be like when the season starts.