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RTE, BBC and ITV – Who is up to the mark for the World Cup?

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Eamon Dunphy with Liam Brady and John Giles at the launch of his book in Patrick Guilbaud's last night

Eamon Dunphy with Liam Brady and John Giles at the launch of his book in Patrick Guilbaud's last night

Eamon Dunphy with Liam Brady and John Giles at the launch of his book in Patrick Guilbaud's last night

It has been a bad few days for BBC in Brazil, though they are not the only broadcaster to face criticism over their World Cup coverage.

Jonathan Pearce’s incredulous response after France were awarded the first-ever goal in a World Cup finals via goal-line technology was a source of embarrassment, not that the Beeb admitted as much.

Pearce, not for the first time, dominated Twitter timelines and Facebook feeds for his failure to accept the technology’s decision, even when co-commentator Martin Keown gently told his colleague France had indeed been awarded the goal to increase their advantage over Honduras.

“And look at this again," a bemused Pearce told viewers.

"We’ve seen so many spurious goal line technology replays. And it signals no goal! No goal has gone up on the screen. The fans have heard it, the Honduran players have seen it.”

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That came hot on the heels for the stinging criticism of Phil Neville for his contribution to the England defeat at the hands of Italy in Manaus.

While his brother Gary is one of the most accomplished, insightful and interesting pundits on television, his younger sibling most certainly is not.

Despite a rather monotonous contribution, BBC responded by stating that Neville is an “important and well-respected member" of their team. They didn’t however say whether his services will be called upon again for the knockout stages should England reach that stage.

He is due to be a co-commentator for two more group games and a studio pundit for a further two.

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Considering the BBC sent out more than 270 people to Brazil for the so-called greatest show on earth, Neville’s inclusion would only add to the belief that this was a numbers game, where quantity greatly out-weighed quantity.

Their rivals ITV, shorn of the services of Roy Keane - sure to have impacted on viewership figures in Ireland if not across the pond - have not escaped either.

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ITV Sport presenter Adrian Chiles pitchside prior to kick-off during the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

ITV Sport presenter Adrian Chiles pitchside prior to kick-off during the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

ITV Sport presenter Adrian Chiles pitchside prior to kick-off during the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

 

Presenter Adrian Chiles is often depicted as a figure of ridicule, while the presence of Fabio Cannavaro has been far more beneficial in theory rather than in practice.

The World-Cup winning captain from 2006 doesn't have sufficient grasp of the English language to offer his thoughts on the action, which has led to some non-flowing discussions and short discussions.

Last, but certainly not least is RTE. Our national broadcaster certainly can’t be accused of wasting tax-payers money as team of just six have been sent to South America.

Considering that the modern-day football fan demands the highest quality analysis, insight and tactical know-how – hence the widespread popularity of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher with Monday Night Football – RTE could well be charged with lagging behind.

What Monday Night Football manages better than perhaps any other programme is the balance between insight and humour.

What the 'Holy Trinity' of Giles, Brady and Dunphy offer is undoubted drama and discussion, with the gentle verbal prodding coming from the masterful Bill O’Herlihy.

Graeme Souness famously said he couldn’t believe what he was permitted to say as a pundit on RTE in comparison to the stuffy Sky studios and at times the debates can be more entertaining and hard-hitting than anything served up on the pitch.

In fact it is now difficult to remember a time pre-Apres Match.

However Montrose has sacrificed a more insightful approach for the anorak in favour of the pantomime for the casual fan, which is understandable.

Giles struggled to name a single Brazilian midfielder during a World Cup preview, while Dunphy added that the hosts haven’t a chance of winning the competition on home soli because they are over-rated on a single player.

If any further insight into Brazil tactics and strategies was what you required, this was not for the forum.

General arguments – Gerrard not being a world-class midfielder, Spain a dying force – take precedent, with entertaining sound bites helpful for ratings. Eamon Dunphy’s promise to don a dress should England reach the knock-out stages a case-in-point.

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Richie Sadlier and Ronnie Whelan buck the trend somewhat, though Ossie Ardiles again has left viewers scratching their heads during his contributions.

The Argentinean is a great coup for the station, but his accent has meant that his full value cannot be truly appreciated by viewers.

Thanks to the advancements in technology, we can now watch proceedings unfold on one station while being up to speed with anything of note in the others.

BBC pundit Thierry Henry’s apologetic laugh when Gary Lineker questioned whether he had ever handballed in the box sparked a huge reaction minutes later, despite the majority of Irish viewers tuning into RTE coverage.

As the World Cup has proved emphatically, the BBC, ITV and RTE all have their pros and cons.

The worrying trend for all three is that viewers are letting their feelings known that the negatives appear to be outweighing the positives.


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