WORLD SNOOKER chairman Barry Hearn says he will meet with BBC bosses to discuss their coverage of the Dafabet World Championship after BBC2 left Wednesday’s gripping quarter-final between Barry Hawkins and Dominic Dale early in the decider.

Live coverage was still available on the BBC red button and online as BBC2 screened a party political broadcast and then the quiz Eggheads.

In January, BBC2 left the Mark Selby-Mark Davis match at the Masters at 5-5 to broadcast Ski Sunday.

Hearn said: “I’ve had a lot of comments about BBC coverage and leaving matches at crucial stages. Whilst I understand there are occasionally certain things beyond our control, I can reassure snooker fans that this has not gone unnoticed and there will be some serious conversations with our colleagues at the BBC.

“We’ve given them a global event and they’ve been wonderful supporters of snooker, but we do have requirements as to how an event of this stature should be treated by our host broadcaster.

“We will go back to the BBC and make sure we maintain the excellent level of coverage we insist upon. They’ve already several shown several hours more this year than last year, and that’s a trend that’s continuing.

“The tournament as far as the BBC is concerned has performed admirably well. Our total average audience is 5% up year on year and our total audience is up 2m on last year. Ronnie O’Sullivan is a huge ratings driver but this goes beyond one player, which pleases me even more.

“Snooker has bottomed out the last few years and we’re now on the road to success, and the BBC figures seem to justify that.”

At his Crucible press conference on Thursday, Hearn announced that ITV4 has signed a five-year deal to televise the Champion of Champions plus a new invitation event, the World Grand Prix, which will comprise the 32 top money earners from the beginning of this year’s World Championship to March next year.

He also said there may be further announcements about more tournaments in the near future.


Photographs by Monique Limbos.