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BBC Radio 5 Live to scrap second commentator role in football coverage to save cash

By Hamish Mackay

October 26, 2011 | 3 min read

The BBC is to dispense of the second commentator’s role on Radio 5 Live football coverage.

According to the Guardian, the change could be made as it has long been an anomaly that the BBC sends two commentators to cover a game on Radio 5 Live but only one when it is being broadcast on television.

The changes will begin next season and all live matches will have a single commentator by the 2014 season as part of plans to save almost £5m from Radio 5 Live's budget.

The Guardian reports that Radio 5 Live insiders have described using two commentators as an ‘anachronism. Alan Green.

The paper quotes a Radio 5 Live source as pointing out: "There is no reason why one person cannot commentate for the whole game.

"It's a historic thing – the way the BBC has always done it – but it is also expensive, especially if the game is coming from Moscow."

Radio 5 Live has used two commentators – they currently swap over in the middle of each half alongside a summariser who covers the entire match – since it began broadcasting in 1990.

Says The Guardian: “An extra commentator was thought to add extra texture and objectivity to its coverage but has come to be regarded as an expensive indulgence.”

The cutbacks are part of BBC director general Mark Thompson's Delivering Quality First (DQF) proposals to save £700m a year.

The DQF proposals, published earlier this month, said Radio 5 Live would maintain sport output at "approximately current levels" but would "reduce the cost of sports presentation including using smaller teams at many events".

A Radio 5 Live spokesman told The Guardian: "Radio 5 Live plans to phase out the use of two football commentators on football matches as part of its Delivering Quality First savings. The changes will begin next season and be fully implemented by 2014.

"The use of two commentators has for long been something which has helped define BBC radio's football coverage but we believe the savings achieved by making this change will enable us to continue to offer the high quality coverage 5 Live listeners expect, using an outstanding team of commentators and pundits."

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