Book Chapter

"For the good of the world": the innovations and influences of the UK's early international televising of sport



Haynes R (2021) "For the good of the world": the innovations and influences of the UK's early international televising of sport. In: Butterworth ML (ed.) Handbook of Communication and Sport. Handbooks of Communication Science, 28. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 421-439.

British television’s early experiments in pan-continental exchanges of pro- gramming were heavily reliant on sharing live coverage of sport events with other nations. This led the BBC’s post-War Controller of Television Cecil McGivern to pro- claim such international exchanges of television were “for the good of the world.” These formative explorations in pan-European exchanges are explored in order to understand the motivations for such innovations, the operational challenges that needed to be overcome and the ideological underpinnings for the national prestige some of these broadcasts brought to both television broadcasters and audiences. Through case studies of the BBC’s international sport broadcasts and the pan-Euro- pean coverage of the 1954 FIFA World Cup from Switzerland, the chapter explains how the BBC’s public service mission and technological know-how were influential in the development of the European Broadcasting Union and the prominence of sport in its “Eurovision” broadcasts. The chapter explores the development of unilateral opt-outs from the multilateral broadcasts of the 1958 World Cup and how such inno- vations continue to shape contemporary coverage of major sport events on television. In conclusion, the chapter urges scholars to recognize the importance of broadcast history to help explain the cultural and technological transformations of television’s relationship to sport.

television sport; BBC; FIFA World Cup; Eurovision; unilateral broadcasts

FundersThe British Academy
Title of seriesHandbooks of Communication Science
Number in series28
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online19/07/2021
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Place of publicationBerlin
ISSN of series2199-627X

People (1)


Professor Richard Haynes
Professor Richard Haynes

Professor, Communications, Media and Culture

Projects (1)