Does 021 Deal for Scottish Premier League Mean Setanta Is Going HD?

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe correspondent

UK outside broadcast company O21 Television has won the contract to
provide facilities for Setanta Sports’ coverage of Scottish Premier
League (SPL) football. Under the agreement 021 will cover 60 live games
a season for a minimum of two years.

The high definition
capability of O21 is likely to fuel speculation that Setanta is
preparing to follow the lead of Sky Sports and, more recently ITV, in
broadcasting high profile games and competitions in HD.

Last
year Arena Television, which has a predominantly HD fleet, began
providing trucks for the Irish broadcaster’s coverage of the English
Premier League. Arena is putting three more HD vehicles on the road
this year and has also been signed up to cover Setanta’s broadcasts of
the FA Cup, a contract running for four years from the autumn, and the
UEFA Cup for three years from next year.

There is expectation in
the industry that Setanta might begin HD transmission of the SPL for
the 2009-2010 season but a spokeswoman for the broadcaster said there
were ‘no imminent signs’ that it would move to the technology. She
added that the matter is discussed at Setanta on a regular basis but
that a move to HD would not happen any time soon.

O21 Television
has built up its HD fleet over the past two years and business
development director Andrew Jones estimates that the ratio is now more
than 60-40 in favour of the new technology. A further HD truck is
planned and Jones said the hope was to have an entirely HD fleet within
two years. In the meantime the SPL will be captured in SDI.

To support the Setanta SPL contract O21 is to open an office in Scotland.