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by Tony Halstead and The PMA Team Trials of big-screen televisions showing sport have begun in 21 pubs across JD Wetherspoon's national estate in a...

by Tony Halstead and The PMA Team Trials of big-screen televisions showing sport have begun in 21 pubs across JD Wetherspoon's national estate in a major change of policy. The company has admitted "testing the water" to see how customers react to live TV sports events in its pubs. Traditionally, the company has marketed itself as an alternative venue for drinkers not interested in major sporting events such as the World Cup. Six Wetherspoon's houses have been selected for the trial withthe remainder made up of Lloyds No 1 bars. A handful of the pubs have also taken out Sky subscriptionsas part of the trial. A number of other Wether-spoon's pubs sited in locations near major sports stadiums such as Twickenham and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff are already showing live TV sport. Most of the sites chosen are larger pubs that have a second floor or bar which allows the TV facility to remain separate from other parts of the premises. Other sites will show major sports events with the sound turned off to help preserve JDW's traditional no-entertainment policy. Operations director Nathan Wall said the trials would run through the current football season and would include customer surveys to provide a balanced feedback of opinion. "Television and entertainment is not the issue it once was, but these trial pubs have been carefully selected and revolve around sites that are perhaps more conducive to showing live sports matches and other events. "People have always suggested we miss out by not providing television in our pubs so now we are trying to find out whether we do," he said. Wall said the trial would be conducted carefully and would last until the end of the current football season next May. "We have to be mindful that many people go to Wetherspoon's pubs precisely because there is no television, jukeboxes or entertainment and we have to remember this," Wall added. One Wetherspoon's pub selected for the trial is the Cross Keys in the City of London, one ofthe company's bigger houses in the capital. The pub has seenthe installation of a screen that measures about 40ft by 50ft. WestLB Panmure analyst Douglas Jack said: "I think they have to be careful because JD Wetherspoon has been marketed on being TV and music free. Its pubs have often won business by not having it. Televised sport must not be allowed to crowd out the traditional offer ­ it should besubtly added in partitioned areas." l Lloyds takings soar ­ p11

Related topics: Sport

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