ITV French Open ‘gaffe’ leaves viewers fuming


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All tennis fans wanted was to be able to enjoy an epic final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic without any distractions or interruptions.

But many viewers were left furious after ITV's 'shambolic' coverage of the final at Roland Garros descended into farce.

The 'King of clay' Nadal claimed his ninth title in Paris with a 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 victory over his big rival, claiming a fifth crown in succession to take his Grand Slam tally to an extraordinary 14.

However, ITV left fans angry and outraged after suddenly switching coverage from their flagship ITV1 channel to ITV4 during the crucial and enthralling final moments of a brilliant match.

The problem which faced some fans was that they could not access the freeview station and, coming as the sudden switch did, left many without coverage of the tense and engrossing finale.

Much as Tramlines wants to see as much tennis as possible on mainstream channels, it has plenty of sympathy with ITV here. One of the pitfalls of live broadcasting is that you don't know when events are going to finish - and sometimes they clash.

Tennis fans might feel one of the matches of the year should take precedence over a charity football match - but you can be sure the broadcaster would have received just as much criticism if the Soccer Aid coverage had started on ITV4.

You could also argue that switching channels wasn't really that much of an imposition - it was still free-to-air and available to anyone watching on Freeview, Freesat, Sky or Virgin. Which is to say, virtually everyone.

Were ITV right in assuming that more people would be interested in watching celebrities take on football legends in an exhibition match than the French Open final?

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Or was the decision just a part of having numerous stations under one banner?

ITV insisted it had made viewers aware of the changeover several times: "The coverage on ITV4 overlapped for several minutes to ensure viewers need not miss any action.

"We apologise for any inconvenience the change in channels caused to any viewers."

Either way, it is certainly not the first time that such a controversy has dogged a major sporting event with fans angry at broadcasters.

Fans were left furious with the BBC after Phil Mickelson produced one of golf's greatest ever rounds to win the Open Championship last year, only for their coverage to almost entirely ignore the first half of his round.

As Mickelson romped to a glorious win on the back nine, the cameras finally started following Lefty, but that only served to increase the anger of those who only witnessed part of the triumph due to the BBC focusing on out-of-contention Brits.

So what did you think of ITV's channel switch? Was it an acceptable switch to the football or disrespectful to fans? Post your views below...

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