|Launched||29 March 1984|
|Closed||5 March 1993|
|Owned by||WH Smith Group
Screensport was a pan-European sports television channel that broadcast from 1984 until its merger with Eurosport in 1993.
Screensport was created on 29 March 1984 by R Kennedy. Within few months, ABC and ESPN took a minority stake in Screensport, thus allowing both networks to gain coverage of British sporting events from around the world. By late 1984, WH Smith Television Group had bought a 15% stake in the company.
Media Communications controlled the studios and transmission facilities to Knutsford, near Manchester, with its administration office based in London. Apart from the American sport, the station aired regular and weekly British sports including British speedway and Stock cars. The channel also sponsored the "Screensport Supercup" in the 1985/86 season.
In 1985 the station started to expand its broadcasting area to include the Netherlands and Sweden, which introduced new programs and sports including "Ice speedway," "Dutch ice hockey" and "Motor sport."
WH Smith era
The WH Smith Television Group took over the operations and management when ABC and R Kennedy pulled out in January 1986. By the end of 1986, the station had lost £700,000, and no longer broadcast to Sweden which resulted in a loss of 100,000 customers. In December 1988, ESPN, increased its stake in the channel from 3.5% to 25.5% after purchasing shares from WH Smith for £4.4 million.
By 1988, Screensport had increased its sports content, allowing the channel to broadcast for 18.5 hours each day. The schedule included ice hockey, skiing, golf, tennis, and yachting. By 1989, Screensport was renamed The European Sports Network, while WH Smith Television Group later renamed itself WHSTV.
The channel also began broadcasting on the Astra 1A satellite in 1989, following a move of its operations from the north of England to central London, after taking full control of "Molinare", a Television Service Group, in May 1989 which helped Screensport to operate as one channel under four different names; Screensport in English, TV Sport in French, Sportkanal in German, and Sportnet in Dutch.
In January 1993, Eurosport and Screensport proposed a merger to provide a one-stop channel, as both channels were operating at a loss. The hope was that a single channel would become financially profitable. The merger took place on 1 March 1993.
In 1987, Screensport filed with the Commission of the European Communities, alleging that the joint purchasing scheme for sporting events by Eurosport's former owners, Sky Television plc and the EBU, violated the competition (antitrust) law rules of the Treaty of Rome. After provisions were made for non-members access to the programming, the Commission granted the EBU a five-year conditional exemption from the requirements of the competition rules.
- "Commission Decision of 19 February 1991 relating to a proceeding pursuant to Article 85 of the EEC Treaty (IV/32.524 - Screensport/EBU members)". Eur-lex.europa.eu. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
- Cable Television and the Future of Broadcasting edited by Ralph Negrine, 1985 , 978-0-415-83924-2
- Joint Ventures, Alliances, and Corporate Strategy. By Kathryn Rudie Harrigan. P169 ISBN 1-58798-195-5
- Shadow cast over cable TV. Jonathan Miller, Media Correspondent. The Times, Monday, December 01, 1986; pg. 3.
- Stake raised. The Times, Wednesday, December 07, 1988; pg. 27
- WH Smith in £4.4m TV bid. The Times, Wednesday, May 17, 1989; pg. 26;
- Satellite channels to merge. The Times, Thursday, January 14, 1993; pg. 40
- From Satellite to Single Market: New Communication Technology and European ... By Richard Collins ISBN 0-203-98424-2
- Screensport issues writ over TV pact. Melinda Wittstock, Medical Correspondent. The Times, Wednesday, May 15, 1991; pg. 22