Broadcasters finalise their new season line-ups

ITV and the pay-TV channel Setanta, which is about to launch a massive ad campaign fronted by Des Lynam, have announced their commentary teams for the football season and rugby World Cup. ITV – which will be showing England’s defence of rugby’s world title on ITV1 and ITV4 – have arranged an unusual loan deal for commentators Stuart Barnes and Miles Harrison because the channel only covers the sport once every four years.

As a result, Barnes and Harrison, the Sky Sports duo, will provide the ITV commentary on the major World Cup games when the tournament begins in Paris in September, and in return their “home” channel will get highlights access for its rugby magazine shows.

Every game will be shown live, with coverage also available on the web and in highlights packages.

ITV’s coverage will be presented by Jim Rosenthal and Martin Bayfield, with pundits including Martin Johnson, Francois Pienaar, Michael Lynagh, Will Greenwood and Kenny Logan.

In football, ITV is also “loaning out” one of its regular commentators, with Jon Champion joining Setanta for the coming season’s English Premiership coverage. Setanta’s commentary talent already includes Ian Crocker, familiar to viewers of its Scottish football coverage.

Champion, who started at BBC’s Match of the Day before moving to ITV, had found himself down the ITV pecking order recently, and he will split his time between the two channels.

Angus Scott will take the anchor role for Setanta, with the former Scotland international Craig Burley as summariser and studio pundits will include Steve McManaman, Emmanuel Petit and Tim Sherwood.

Setanta’s ad campaign – which makes a play of the pay-TV channel’s low profile in the UK – will feature Lynam speaking about the virtues of the subscription TV sports service while selling pies from a caravan outside a football stadium.

Lynam features in all three of the Setanta ads, which break on Monday and will be supported by a national campaign using posters, radio, print press, online and direct marketing throughout the 2007-2008 football season.

“This is a massive season for Setanta and a good time for everyone who loves watching great sport on TV,” said Setanta’s GB marketing director Tim Ryan, who joined from AOL earlier this year.

It is understood that Lynam is likely to play a role in the broadcasting of the football matches “in some way”, with Setanta set to outline the details of its Premiership coverage strategy, including 46 live matches per season, on Monday.

Viewers can get Setanta’s football coverage for £9.99 per month on Freeview or a range of eight channels via BSkyB’s digital satellite service.