I'm afraid this is not 'breaking' news.
The thin edge started last summer when Wetherspoons trialled TV's in some of their pubs during the 2004 European football championships. They admitted then they were chasing the money of that great consumer god of pubs, the footy fan. Once they had opened the door it was always going to happen especially as they have been under pressure from the city for not increasing their profits fast enough. (Although our local Wetherspoons have put up the guest beers from £1.39 to £1.59).
Plus dont forget Wetherspoons own the Lloyds No 1 chain which have always had big screens and TV's.
As Eric said they might not have piped music but it can be bloody hard to have a conversation without shouting when the pub is busy due to the high ceilings.
Personally I have lots of issues with Tim Martin and his company; he often tries to take the moral high ground on matters relating to the trade then backs down as soon as no-one follows his example. He has a warehouse full of 'oversize' glasses which would ensure a full pint that are sitting collecting dust as the Government have been rather reticent in pushing through legislation to protect the consumer. He stated that he would phase in no-smoking throughout his estate when the debate was at its peak yet one of the local Wetherspoons that should have converted to no-smoking in April is still no nearer despite having announced 4 dates when it would begin. Why do they have a policy of advertising the beer you could have drunk if only you'd been in earlier/yesterday. Just turn the pump-clips round! It helps everybody, customer and barstaff. Worst of all he announced to the press that his company are not reponsible for, even in part, for the 'binge drinking' or urban disturbances in town centres. OK you dont see many people under 30 in Wetherspoons at 11pm but thats because they have met up there from 7pm and drunk at low prices for a couple of hours before moving on to disturb other pubs and areas.
As for their bar staff why would they take the time to serve a mature customer with a well pulled pint of real ale that will require topping up when you can open the fridge and hand over a bottle of fizzy vodka to an 18 year old. No wonder Eric left without getting served.
Right nearly opening time I'm off to a decent local boozer.