BBC lose FA Cup final to ITV

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The BBC yesterday surrendered live coverage of the FA Cup final to their commercial rivals, ITV.

That is the outcome of a three-way pounds 130m deal, dominated by the satellite broadcasters Sky, for the rights to the Football Association's major properties for four years from 1997 onwards.

The BBC also loses highlights of England's international matches, but will keep its Road to Wembley FA Cup highlights in return for a pounds 15m contribution to the package.

The BBC could not find enough licence payers' money to compete harder for the game that has been the jewel in its sporting crown since 1937.

ITV will show a live FA Cup match on Sunday afternoons from rounds three to six, as well as one live semi-final and the final. They will also show highlights of midweek replays from round three onwards and will be able to show highlights of all England's home games, including qualifiers for the World Cup and European Championships.