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Sport (Television Coverage)

Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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What plans he has to protect live coverage of key sporting events on terrestrial television. [13437]

As we promised before the election, we are considering the nature and extent of the list of major domestic and international sporting events that must be available for live coverage on terrestrial television. I have recently consulted all interested parties on the principles that ought to apply to such a list. The results of that consultation have been received and I shall shortly be appointing an advisory group to advise me further.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Does he recognise that many people will feel that it is wrong that major sporting events, which belong to the nation, such as one-day international cricket or Premier League football, are denied to ordinary people who do not have access to Mr. Murdoch's satellite television at the exorbitant charge of £22 a month? Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to ensure that those events are given proper consideration in his review? Will he also recognise that the definition of terrestrial television should not include Channel 5 because many parts of the country, including my constituency, do not receive it?

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point on Channel 5. He also has to recognise that, in determining this issue, we need to achieve a proper balance between the need for sporting organisations to get the best possible value from the matches and games that they are putting on and the right of ordinary people who cannot afford and do not want to afford subscription television to see major national events. It is getting that balance right that the review is all about.