Sport on TV: BBC switched on: Budget rising to pounds 90m next year

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(First Edition)

THE BBC is determined to continue extensive, high-profile coverage of national and international sport, a conference heard yesterday. Jonathan Martin, head of television sport, told national sports administrators that the company's sports' budget would rise to around pounds 90m for 1994.

Delegates attending the Central Council of Physical Recreation conference at Bosworth Hall in Warwickshire had expressed concern that coverage might be threatened by satellite TV and the corporation's own budget restrictions.

Martin said: 'There are going to be changes in sport, in broadcasting and within the BBC. Fashions and taste change. Coverage becomes more expensive. It would be nice to have a bottomless pit and be able to bid for everything.

'The fact is, quite rightly, that we have tight financial restraints. But the current BBC management is no less determined than any of its predecessors that sport should play an essential central part.'

Martin said the budget has increased by between 25-30 per cent over five years and was running well ahead of inflation. Coverage would be headed next year by football's World Cup, the Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games and European Athletics Championships. Martin confirmed that major domestic athletics - for years the exclusive property of ITV - would return to the channel next summer.