Decision on free-to-air sports events deferred until 2012

The decision to review the list of sports events that must be screened on free-to-air television has been deferred by Hugh Robertson, minister for sport and the Olympics, until the end of the switchover process in 2012 .

TV coverage: Fifa World Cup finals on current Group A list
TV coverage: Fifa World Cup finals on current Group A list

An independent report into free-to-air listed events led by broadcaster David Davies and published in November, recommended that events such as the Open Golf Championship and the entire Rugby World Cup tournament be protected for free to air TV.

A DCMS consultation on the proposals closed in March and the department received more than 100 submissions, 18 of which were from major organisations.

In a statement, Robertson said: "I fully support the principle of protecting major sports events for free-to-air coverage. But with digital switchover concluding in 2012, this will result in the widespread availability of a significantly increased number of television channels, many of which will be free-to-air.

"Add to this the BBC’s Strategy Review, which will cover sports rights, and the Ofcom Pay TV Review, the broadcasting context for this decision is increasingly unclear."

The announcement means the current list, drawn up in 1998, will remain in force.

Martyn Thomas, chairman of the management board of the RFU, said: "The Rugby Football Union welcomes DCMS’s decision. It was always our view, and that of other rugby authorities affected, that the existing model allowed us to invest the most amount of money back into the community game."

Group A (Full Live Coverage Protected)

 

  • The Olympic Games
  • The Fifa World Cup Finals
  • The European Football Championship Finals
  • The FA Cup Final
  • The Scottish FA Cup Final (in Scotland)
  • The Grand National
  • The Wimbledon Tennis Finals
  • The Rugby World Cup Final
  • The Derby
  • The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final

Group B (Secondary Coverage [highlights] Protected)

 

  • Cricket Test matches played in England
  • Non-finals play in the Wimbledon tournament
  • All other matches in the Rugby World Cup Finals
  • Six Nations Rugby matches Involving Home Countries
  • The Commonwealth Games
  • The World Athletics Championship
  • The Cricket World Cup – the final, semi-finals and matches Involving Home Nations' Teams
  • The Ryder Cup
  • The Open Golf Championship

An independent advisory panel chaired by ex-FA executive director Davies recommended Group B be scrapped and the following events protected:

Group A (Full Live Coverage Protected)

 

  • Summer Olympic Games (recommend de-listing Winter games)
  • The Fifa World Cup Finals
  • The European Football Championship Finals
  • The FA Cup Final
  • The Scottish FA Cup Final (in Scotland)
  • The Grand National
  • The Wimbledon Tennis Championship in its entirety
  • The Rugby Union World Cup in its entirety
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