Thursday, October 04, 2007

Setanta apolgises to Canadian fans for blatant bias

Public letter from Roger Hall, CEO Setanta Sports North America, to Rugby Canada:


During the Canada vs Japan match last month a number of viewers of the feed produced by Setanta were upset by comments made by the announcers prompting dozens of e-mails to the Rugby Canada website.

After investigating the nature of the complaints leveled at Setanta, which broadcast all of Canada's pool matches through Rogers Sportsnet, Rugby Canada Marketing & Communications Director Nick Taylor issued a formal complaint with the Irish broadcaster, with the following response coming to the Rugby Canada offices. We provide this letter in its entirety for your consideration.

October 04, 2007
New York, NY

I am writing to you because I am extremely concerned that the Setanta Sports presentation of the Canada v Japan game in the Rugby World Cup has caused considerable anger among fans of Rugby Canada, the Canadian National Squad and the board of Rugby Canada. I want to take this opportunity to apologize unreservedly on behalf of Setanta Sports for the comments made during our commentary; they were unnecessary, unacceptable and clearly offensive to many Canadian rugby fans.

Sometimes in the heat of battle, commentators and co-commentators can get caught up in the events unfolding before them and cross the line between professional presentation and speaking their mind too freely. In this instance, Liam Toland did stray off what would be considered acceptable as co-commentary. There is a need for presenters to strive to be forthright in their views because, as most sports fans recognize, dull coverage is simply not adding anything to the game. However, impartiality and good grace should not be lost in the effort to entertain. I have spoken to the producers of our Rugby World Cup 2007 coverage to ensure this does not happen again.

I would like everyone associated with Rugby Canada to know that I understand the pride that the nation has for its national rugby team and why this sort of unfortunate expression of opinion is hurtful on both a personal and national level.

Once again I want to offer Rugby Canada and the fans our sincere apologies and to assure you of our commitment to improving and thereby providing the very best international sports coverage available.

Yours sincerely

Roger Hall
CEO Setanta Sports North America


Truth be old, the Setanta broadcaster Liam Toland was saying some pretty nasty stuff about Canada during that match, rallying behind Japan ("Go Japan!!") and generally disparaging the Canadian boys and repeatedly saying out loud he hoped Canada would lose. I've always been a supporter of the Irish national team in Six Nations competition, but can tell you I was gleefully ringing my hands when they face-planted their way out of the RWC, Early-Exit-Stage-Left, after hearing that Setanta horseshit. The compeuppance was delicious. Those announcers point a many-a finger at the lameass performance of their national rugby team, but would do well to look in the mirror at their own pisspoor work. Toland was unprofessional and plainly disgusting, and I am glad many Canadian fans took their own initiative to dial up and vent.


At 1:00 PM , Blogger James C said...

I watched the England v France RWC semi final yesterday on pay-per-view. $25 and Setanta coverage. I could hardly believe the anti-English bias of the post match commentary. It was a DISGRACE. All they could talk about was how the English "didn't deserve to win" ... amazing! I am anglo/irish, but I was impressed by the never-say-die attitude of the English team as they kept the French out during the last 15 minutes of the game. They just refused to give-in, which if you've played a close game of rugby you'll know is a fairly heroic feat for any team.

Setanta should be ashamed of their post-match coverage. And given the presumably large English audience watching the game, it probably didn't win do their business any favors either.

At 1:08 PM , Blogger Dave said...

I will be watching the delayed Seanta coverage of the game tonight. It is most typical of them to completely excise all the pre-game, half-time and post-match analysis on the tape-delays, but it's a Semi-Final match so they may run the entire package. I'll be sure to check their comments. BY the sounds of your message though, you may be lucky it was restricted to the post-game panel, whereas the Canada vs. Japan match had blatant cheerleading by the commentators during the actual match.


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