BOXER Frank Bruno will make British broadcasting history next month when his title fight with Mike Tyson becomes the first sporting event to be shown on pay-per-view television.

Subscribers to Sky Sports will have to spend an additional #9.95 to see the bout live from Las Vegas in the early hours of March 16, for which Bruno's purse is #4m.

The surcharge is regarded by some observers as the shape of things to come in British broadcasting. Pay-per-view screenings have become common for major sporting contests in the United States.

However, Bruno's promoter, Mr Frank Warren, yesterday defended the decision and insisted it was the cheapest way to ensure that the fight was screened in Britain.

He said: ``If we did not use pay-per-view then the only other option would be to use closed-circuit cinema. The cheapest that's ever been done is #20 (each) and it usually costs around #25.''

Asked if Bruno was happy that the majority of the British viewing public would be denied access to his WBC heavyweight title defence against former champion Tyson, Mr Warren insisted the massive purses on offer left little room for sentiment.

He added: ``With all due respect to Frank Bruno, it's got nothing to do with him. He has a contract with (US promoter) Don King to sell the TV rights for the best he can get and it was my job to sell those rights in Britain.''

Mr Warren also suggested that pay-per-view was the only way forward for British boxing if big title fights were to be staged in this country.

``It will help people like Nigel Benn and Naseem Hamed keep their title fights in Britain rather than them having to go and put their titles on the line abroad.''

The night's viewing will include Prince Naseem's first WBO featherweight championship defence against Nigeria's Said Lawal, from the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow.

Mr Warren also hopes that Joe Bugner, 45, will be part of the package, challenging for a WBO-intercontinental championship, although Bugner has twice been refused a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.

Sky, which has a potential audience of almost five million viewers through satellite dishes and cable subscriptions, said the surcharge was a one-off. Deputy managing director David Chance said the company had no plans to extend the operation to other events, such as live football matches.

The pricing for pubs and clubs will depend on their rateable value. A large pub could be charged #200 to screen it to their customers. Bookings for the event will commence on March 1.