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Radio Humberside
Radio Humberside

Humberside Response

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 06/07/2007

IN relation to the story regarding the breakdown of negotiations between Radio Humberside and Grimsby Town Football Club I have now received a response from the club.

GTFC are concerned that I did not seek their input before publishing, and my failure to do so, prevented me from publishing a more balanced view of events or the current situation.

The club believe that my failure to contact them causes the foundation of my report to show the club in a bad light, which is unfair (to the club) which was not my intention, and I recognise the club’s concerns and in addition, as I am not afraid of standing up and being counted, although no request has been made for me to do so, I apologise for not doing that.

The club are not prepared to continually make public statements on the issue between Radio Humberside and them as this will only create an impasse between the two which they want to avoid, as it was, and still is, the aim of the club to reach a satisfactory agreement. I accept their reasoning on this decision.

Taking into account the club’s concerns and further clarifications I sought yesterday, I publish here, which to the best of my knowledge and belief, is the current situation. In doing this I have reviewed my previous article and taken into account the additional information I have.

In the negotiations between the two parties, Mr. Charles Runcie, Head of Sport, BBC English Regions, represented the BBC and Mr. John Fenty, Chairman of Grimsby Town Football Club represented the Club. Both parties had other representatives involved.

The discussions between the two parties were not confined to the radio commentaries. The club was also seeking to have a more trusting relationship to ensure that accurate and responsible reporting would follow.

Over the last two and a half years, the club believes they have been treated very badly by RH and wish to say little more than that at this time, other than to say they have given RH many opportunities to address their grievances. Broadly, RH does not accept the clubs claims and have done nothing to address their concerns.

Frustratingly and after much consideration the club approached Ofcom to arbitrate the clubs grievances in two formal complaints.

(OFCOM is the Office of Communications and is the regulator for communication industries in the United Kingdom)

Negotiation on a future contract were progressing reasonably well until Ofcom gave notice to RH that they had entertained a complaint from Mr. Fenty on behalf of the club. The club only did this as what they saw as a last resort. The club will not be drawn further on the subject and stress that people should avoid speculation and wait for Ofcom’s decision.

The club received notification from Mr. Runcie that the BBC were withdrawing from the discussions and would not be seeking to secure an agreement with Grimsby Town Football Club when two official complaints are pending with OFCOM, and there is a general concern by the club about RH coverage and staff.

The club believes both finance and the scope of the contract were not reasons to withdraw, as there were firm offers from the BBC with counter proposals from the club, which were not further discussed when the BBC withdrew their offer.

The BBC confirmed they are content to abide by the rules of the central deals the BBC have signed with the Football Association and the Football League with regards to match commentary. Therefore, if RH wishes to do a radio commentary on Grimsby Town in a League 2, Carling Cup or JPT match next season they shall ask permission of both clubs in the normal manner. They confirmed GTFC are entitled to refuse RH that permission.

The club have never said that they are not prepared to allow RH to broadcast games should they wish to at this stage, but because of the uncertainty they have explained that Mariners World is the only place match commentary can definitely be heard as a matter of courtesy to the fans / listeners.

The club have reiterated that they have made and continue to make every effort to have as best a working relationship with Radio Humberside as possible and that it was the BBC who retracted from further negotiations - not the club.

To the best of my beliefs, that is where I believe we are today, I have robust information to support this statement but I will in future check with the club before listening to other persons side of the story regarding radio coverage at Blundell Park.

Is there a solution? Only the BBC and the club can answer that. But it may be possible.

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