Tennis

Judy Murray calls on Fed Cup to be free to air after BBC snubs Kazakhstan tie

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Judy Murray wants the Fed Cup on free-to-air TV

Judy Murray wants the Fed Cup on free-to-air TV (Picture: Getty)

Great Britains Fed Cup win over Kazakhstan was a perfect blend of drama and high-quality tennis but there was a sense of frustration among British tennis chiefs that the spotlight was not shining as bright as it could have been on Anne Keothavongs side.

It remains a source of disappointment that the BBC opted not to pick up the tie at the Copper Box Arena, despite the relatively cheap rights fee, to give the team extra exposure – something that is so often desperately lacking in womens sport.

While BT Sport did an admirable job in covering the tie – dedicating more than 12 hours of coverage – it remains a fact that subscription-only television generates far less interest than its free-to-air competition.

Judy Murray, the mother of multiple Grand Slam champions Andy and Jamie as well as being a former captain of the Fed Cup team, hopes that promotion to the top tier of womens team tennis will encourage broadcasters to foot the bill to show the Brits in action next season.

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Team tennis is such a wonderful way to engage fans and showcase our sport and our players, Murray said.

The Fed Cup team beat Kazakhstan

The Fed Cup team enjoyed a fine win(Picture: Getty Images for LTA)

Lets hope that the World Group Fed Cup ties are on free to view television so that many more people can see the girls in action and be inspired by their fighting performances.

In a time where there is a lot of noise coming from the BBC with regards to promoting womens sport, it seems a curious decision not to air the Fed Cup, particularly as the organisation has covered the competition in the past.

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Johanna Konta is one of Britains most high-profile female athletes, while Katie Boulter is beginning to establish herself as the most exciting prospect in womens tennis on these shores.

Missing the opportunity to showcase both fighting back from a set down to drive Britain to victory – with Boulter struggling through a back injury – in arguably the best atmosphere ever produced for womens tennis in this country at a rammed east London venue feels like a genuine shame.

Konta celebrated Fed Cup victory

Konta was in good form (Picture: Getty Images)

BBC bosses had initially indicated interest in picking up the clash but ultimately failed to cough up the rights fee – which is less than £15,000 – citing a lack of budget. The attitude is particularly frustrating for Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) chiefs who are experiencing pushback for some of their summer events in order to cater for the womens football World Cup.

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Some may attempt to argue that there is a lack of interest in what was essentially – when putting the tie into footballing terms – a League One play-off, but that didnt appear to be the case in a quick survey of BBC online live text pages on Sunday afternoon.

While Premier League football – the most dominant sporting force in this country – commanded nearly 100,000 viewers to the BBC live text page at around 4.30pm, no other sport was as readily clicked on as tennis.

The 6,800 viewers inside the blog scored higher than One-Day Cup cricket (4,800), Champions Cup rugby (3,100), womens Champions League football (2,800) and a Real Madrid La Liga match (1,800). The figures for snooker – which is known to be incredibly popular – were not readily available.

Boulter secured the win for Team GB

Boulter sealed the tie for the Brits (Picture: Getty Images)

At the same time, the LTAs live stream of the match on Facebook – that the organisation coughed up a small fee to BT Sport in order to show – only had 1,000 active viewers, which again demonstrates the strength at the BBCs disposal in the bid to promote sport in this country.

There was decent interest in the coverage on Facebook as a whole, though. More than 1.5million people visited the LTAs page in Read More – Source