World Snooker signs five year deal with BBC

MUMBAI: World Snooker has announced a new deal which will keep the sport on UK pubcaster BBC Television until May 2011.

The BBC will continue to screen full coverage of four major tournaments – currently the Grand Prix, the UK Championship, the Masters and the World Championship - for the next five years. The BBC states that snooker is among the most popular television sports. Viewing figures for the World Championship final in May between Shaun Murphy and Matthew Stevens peaked at 7.8 million.

World Snooker chairman Sir Rodney Walker said, "In an era when many sports are turning to satellite networks for coverage, we are very pleased to be keeping snooker on terrestrial television until at least 2011. This is excellent news for the many millions of snooker fans in Britain. The new deal is also very positive news for our players and for the sport as a whole. The BBC and their production company TWI have set exceptional standards in the way they have broadcast snooker and this has been a key factor behind the sport's enduring appeal to the public. "

BBC head of general sports Barbara Slater said: "Snooker continues to be one of the most popular televised sports and we're delighted it's going to continue on the BBC. Snooker has been pioneering in terms of offering new technology, particularly with the introduction of interactive and broadband rights.

Snooker world number one Ronnie O'Sullivan said, "I know how many people watch snooker on the BBC so it great news for them that they can keep watching us. I can't imagine the big tournaments being televised on any channel other than BBC."

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