TV and Radio

TV review: The Long March was a bit of a dull walk

Miriam O'Callaghan interviews civil rights campaigner, Bernadette McAliskey
Billy Foley

The Long March, RTE 1, Tuesday at 9.35pm

THERE was the making of the decent documentary somewhere inside The Long March but it never got out.

Ostensibly the programme was to mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, although the 'Long March' from Belfast to Derry didn't take place until 1969.

As with much of factual television, it fell between the twin objectives of giving the personal views of the presenter and providing an insight into a seminal historic moment.

The attack on the marchers at Burntollet, on the outskirts of Derry, by a loyalist mob is regarded by many as the starting point of the Troubles.

The civil rights campaign had exposed the sectarianism of the unionist state, nationalists had lost confidence in the impartiality of the police and a cycle of violence was launched which would not end for more than 30 years.

These events are certainly worthy of significant television attention.

Miriam O'Callaghan undertook reasonable interviews with some of the central characters, such as Eamonn McCann and Bernadette McAliskey, but never quite got to grips with the topic.

The central theme was of setting the civil rights campaign into the context of worldwide protests and in particular the campaign of African Americans to be treated as equals.

Undoubtedly the long march in Northern Ireland was inspired by the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965.

But there is no revelation in that and it was unnecessary to a have a series of interviews from the US explaining the basics of the civil rights campaign of the southern states of the US.

It would have been a more fulfilling documentary if that time had been used to consider in much greater detail the nature of the discrimination against nationalists in Northern Ireland, the response through the civil rights campaign and the reasons for the descent into violence.

**

USPGA golf, Eleven Sports

We may look back on last weekend as a defining moment in sports broadcasting.

Modern British and Irish television, despite the disruption of the internet in the last decade, has been defined by Sky Sports' aggregation of sports licensing into a singular package.

The Premier League has been transformed into the richest in the world as Sky outbid all comers to secure the key rights to football. But it also hoovered up everything else it could get hold of, including rugby, golf and even GAA.

It meant TV sport was sold as a complete and expensive package.

Setanta Sports and BT tried, but failed to break Sky's dominance.

Eleven Sports, set up by the owner of Leeds football club and a former BT Sports executive, last weekend secured the British and Irish rights to the last of the season's golf majors.

It turned out to be a coup, with Tiger Woods coming close to one of the greatest ever sporting comebacks and in turn producing the highest viewing figures in the US in a decade.

There was some criticism of the fact that Eleven Sports's broadcast - it was free on its Facebook page on Thursday and Friday and free on its website if you registered on Saturday on Sunday - wasn't available on television.

It was essentially a rebroadcast of the feed of TNT, a US sports broadcaster, with a little bit of local commentating input.

But it worked fine and is available for the price of Netflix rather than the wallet bursting price of Sky.

Sky has already responded to this threat by selling its specific sports channels individually, but YouTube or website streaming rights look like the future for viewers looking for value over convenience.

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