Athletics: BAF signs new TV deal

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ITV will continue its exclusive coverage of British athletics next year but will screen fewer domestic meetings than ever before during its 10-season reign as the 'athletics channel'.

Both the British Athletic Federation and its long-standing Independent Television partners pronounced themselves delighted with the one- year extension to the contract which will enable ITV to screen live and exclusively seven major domestic meetings in 1994.

BAF was putting on a brave face after the announcement of the deal but, after one of British athletics' most successful years highlighted by the superb display at the Stuttgart World Championships, senior officials had been privately hoping to seal a long-term, lucrative deal.

Instead, they have had to settle for a short-term agreement which will see ITV screen three indoor meetings and only four key outdoor events - Gateshead (1 July), Edinburgh (7 July), Crystal Palace (15 July) and Sheffield (4 Sept) - before the television contract comes up for renegotiation.

It is the fewest number of domestic meetings ITV has covered since it first signed an exclusive deal with British athletics for the 1985 season. Instead, the channel will continue its commitment to show the 'Golden Four' grand prix meetings in Oslo, Brussels, Zurich and Berlin.