The End of Setanta Sports: Live Blog

  • 6/23/2009 05:25:00 pm
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones

[17.26] MediaGuardian report that Setanta Sports News, Setanta 1 and Setanta 2 are due to close down around 6pm this evening. Join us now, as we commentate live on exciting events as they happen. Or, more likely, don't. Meaning we end up deleting this post, and it goes the way of "New BBC Ident: Live Blog", "BBC Engineering Relay Station Tests 2007: Live Blog" and "Totally Saturday Series Launch: Live Blog".

[17.30] It's genuinely quite sad that the presenters on-air at Setanta Sports News may well not know they'll be out of a job in about 30 minutes. The channel aren't even reporting on their own closure, despite it being a live breaking news story. They're literally "on location" for this big breaking story, yet the SSN ticker bar isn't even referring to it. Mind you, neither are Sky Sports News, it seems.


[17.35] We feel like ghouls. We’re reporting on the downfall of a television channel, yet the people actually on it are ploughing on with Horatio Herbert Kitchener-grade stiff upper lippedness:


[17.44] Flicking through, all three channels due to close this evening are broadcasting programmes which end at 6pm. Hopefully there’ll be a fitting retrospective for what was – despite what braying crowds of England fans might have said – a commendable attempt at taking on the status quo.

[17.46] As the anchors keep on presenting the sports news, the office workers in the background are actually packing their bags.and walking away. There might be a temptation to make cheap gags at their expense here (“tee-hee, someone’s going round nicking all the mousemats!”, that sort of thing), but it’s a group of people actually losing their jobs, broadcast live on air.

[17.48] The closure of the channel is finally being mentioned, with a rundown of the events covered. Including the aside that “all sports were covered equally, no matter who the rights holder”. Nice touch, given that Sky Sports News don’t like to mention events that they don’t have the rights to.

[17.50] Maybe it’s just the short amount of notice they’ve had to get a retrospective together, but the ‘highlights’ package for the channel – a selection box of reporters in snow talking about deadline day, a few interviews with disinterested sportsmen, a clip of Rafa Benitez and his dossier, and clips from sporting events, often with the telltale score overlays from BBC Sport, but we can’t help but feel this cements the channel’s position as “poor relation to Sky Sports News”. Mind you, that’s more ITN’s fault (who were behind the channel) than Setanta’s.

[17.55] The musical bed for the montage is some nondescript top 20 ‘chart’ ‘smash’. Now, we know they’d had a bit longer to prepare for their demise, but as least ITV Digital closed with Pixies’ Monkey Gone To Heaven.

[17.58] It’s all over. And to be honest, it’s a shame.



[18.00] Anyone been watching Sky Sports News or Setanta 1 (or 2) over the last ten minutes? Sky Sports News seem to be leading with something or other about Chelsea at the moment (y’know, for a change), but we’d hope they could at least have acknowledged the passing of their sports-news-based adversaries as they slid back into their monopolistic position. Meanwhile, we’d guess Setanta 1 (and 2) had cut to the closing Setanta Sports News tribute from their last few minutes on air, as opposed to crashing into the caption above.

[18.20] For anyone wondering what happens next for the other channels available to Setanta subbers, here’s a quick rundown of which channels are on air, and which aren’t:

ESPN America (Sky channel 417) : ON AIR
Setanta News (418) : Closed
Setanta Sports 1 (423) : Closed
Setanta Sports 2 (424) : Closed
Setanta Golf (429) : Closed
Setanta Ireland (430): ON AIR
Racing UK (430) : ON AIR
Liverpool FC TV (434) : ON AIR
Arsenal TV (435) : ON AIR

Celtic TV (436) : EPG says “European night”, but blank screen.
Rangers TV (438): EPG says “The Wee Match”, but blank screen.

How long they’ll last, we’re not sure. None of the channels still on air are actually owned by Setanta, so presumably will stay ticking along whilst seeking a new subscription model, presumably via Sky. When Celtic and Rangers TV will return is anyone’s guess.

[18.45] So, with Setanta closed for less than an hour, resulting in 200 people suddenly becoming unemployed, how are people on Twitter showing their sympathy?

“So goodbye then Setanta Sports News - off air at 6pm. We salute their professionalism and their spirit in the face of adversity.”

“Heart goes out to 200 people who no longer have a job at Setanta.”

“Just watched Setanta Sports go off air A bad day for TV & fans A good day for the bully boy managers at Sky TV “

“wats guna happen with ufc in the uk now? setanta you bastards, 2 weeks before 100!”


“As the lights sadly go out at Setanta, so starts the uploads of Setanta freelancer's showreels:

“Haha in a bit Setanta Sports worst fucking TV channel ever”

“setanta is now off air I wannabe bloody refund”

“Glad to see Setanta has gone tits up. Horrible company.”

”Just watching the closing moments of Setanta Sports News. More jobs lost. So sad. Journalism's taking a real kicking at the moment.”

Twitter, there. TV Newsroom already have Setanta’s farewell retrospective online. So, here’s a link to it: As Simon Sweepingthenation mentions in the comments for this post, it was clearly a compilation cobbled together for in-house and trade purposes, what with all the captions being in the present tense. A shame there wasn’t really the chance to put together a more fitting tribute to the brand, but kind of fitting in with their all too quick demise.


Still, that’s it. Setanta – so long, and thanks for all the fish (sport).

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