The Tour was first followed only by journalists from L'Auto, the organisers. The race was founded to increase sales of a floundering newspaper and its editor, Desgrange, saw no reason to allow rival publications to profit. The first time papers other than L'Auto were allowed was 1921, when 15 press cars were allowed for regional and foreign reporters.
The Tour was shown first on cinema newsreels a day or more after the event. The first live radio broadcast was in 1929, when Jean Antoine and Alex Virot of the newspaper L'Intransigeant broadcast for Radio Cité. They used telephone lines. In 1932 they broadcast the sound of riders crossing the col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees on 12 July, using a recording machine and transmitting the sound later.
The first television pictures were shown a day after a stage. The national TV channel used two 16mm cameras, a Jeep and a motorbike. Film was flown or taken by train to Paris. It was edited there and shown the following day. The first live broadcast, and the second of any sport in France, was the finish at the Parc des Princes in Paris on 25 July 1948. Rik van Steenbergen of Belgium led in the bunch after a stage of 340 km from Nancy. The first live coverage from the side of the road was from the Aubisque on 8 July 1958. Proposals to cover the whole race were abandoned in 1962 after objections from regional newspapers whose editors feared the competition. The dispute was settled but not in time and the first complete coverage was the following year.
The leading television commentator in France was a former rider, Robert Chapatte. At first he was the only commentator. He was joined in following seasons by an analyst for the mountain stages and by a commentator following the competitors by motorcycle.
Broadcasting in France was largely a state monopoly until 1982, when the socialist president François Mitterrand allowed private broadcasters and privatised the leading television channel. Competition between channels raised the broadcasting fees paid to the organisers from 1.5 per cent of the race budget in 1960 to more than a third by the end of the century. Broadcasting time also increased as channels competed to secure the rights. The two largest channels to stay in public ownership, Antenne 2 and FR3, combined to offer more coverage than its private rival, Télévision France. The two stations, renamed France 2 and France 3, still hold the domestic rights and provide pictures for broadcasters around the world.
The stations use a staff of 300 with four helicopters, two aircraft, two motorcycles, 35 other vehicles including trucks, and 20 podium cameras.
Domestic television covers the most important stages of the Tour, such as those in the mountains, from mid-morning until early evening. Coverage typically starts with a survey of the day's route, interviews along the road, discussions of the difficulties and tactics ahead, and a 30-minute archive feature. The biggest stages are shown live from start to end, followed by interviews with riders and others and features such an edited version of the stage seen from beside a team manager following and advising riders from his car. Radio covers the race in updates throughout the day, particularly on the national news channel, France Info, and some stations provide continuous commentary on long wave. Other countries broadcast the Tour, including the United States, which has shown the Tour since 1999 on the NBC Sports Network.
The combination of unprecedented rigorous doping controls and almost no positive tests helped restore fans' confidence in the 2009 Tour de France. This led directly to an increase in global popularity of the event. The most watched stage of 2009 was stage 20, from Montélimar to Mont Ventoux in Provence, with a global total audience of 44 million, making it the 12th most watched sporting event in the world in 2009.
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Famous quotes containing the word broadcasting:
“We spend all day broadcasting on the radio and TV telling people back home whats happening here. And we learn whats happening here by spending all day monitoring the radio and TV broadcasts from back home.”
—P.J. (Patrick Jake)