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Free-to-Air Listed Events

Volume 514: debated on Wednesday 21 July 2010

A free-to-air listed events regime has operated in the UK for many years and has been reviewed periodically. A review of the current list was commissioned in late 2008 and undertaken by an independent advisory panel chaired by ex-FA executive director, David Davies. The review looked at the principle of having a list, the criteria for listing events and the specific events which should be listed. Full details of the current list and the Davies panel’s recommendations are listed below.

In response to the Davies’ proposals, the previous Government launched their own consultation at the end of 2009. This consultation closed on 19 March 2010.

This Government begin their consideration of this subject from the perspective of not wishing to increase—and ideally seeking to reduce—the degree of regulation faced by sports bodies and broadcasters while ensuring that viewers continue to have access to the biggest sporting events on free-to-air television, through live coverage or highlights.

Furthermore, the current economic climate also points to us not taking action which could adversely impact on sport, particularly at grassroots level.

In making a decision on the best way forward we have taken account of a range of major developments that are likely to have a significant effect on sports rights markets and the broadcasting landscape in the near future. Digital switchover will conclude in 2012 and will result in the widespread availability of a significantly increased number of television channels. It will also release spectrum which could be used for, among other things, yet more digital channels. Other technological advances could significantly alter the way the sports broadcasting environment operates in the UK. Furthermore, there are issues such as the BBC’s strategy review, which will cover sports rights, and the Ofcom pay TV review, the consequences of which still have to work themselves through.

These issues all point to a full review of the current list being deferred until after digital switchover has concluded and its consequences are known. In reaching that view I have looked at the material put forward by respondents to the previous Government’s consultation document to see if it contained any evidence to suggest that I should not defer a decision. I did not consider that there was any such evidence: accordingly, I propose to defer a decision on the listed events regime but with a commitment to review the position more fully in 2013—following the completion of digital switchover. The current list therefore remains in force.

Annex A

Current List of Events

Group A (Full Live Coverage Protected)

The Olympic Games

The FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament

The European Football Championship Finals Tournament

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 Protected)

Cricket Test Matches played in England

Non-Finals play in the Wimbledon Tournament

All Other Matches in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament

Six Nations Rugby Tournament 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

Davies Review

A review of the current list was commissioned in late 2008 and undertaken by an independent advisory panel chaired by ex-FA executive director, David Davies. The review looked at the principle of having a list, the criteria for listing events and the specific events which should be listed. It concluded the following events should be listed:

Group A (Full Live Coverage Protected)

Summer Olympic Games (recommended de-listing winter games)

The FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament

The European Football Championship Finals Tournament

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 Tournament in its entirety

Events Davies proposed be added to Group A List

Home and Away qualification matches in the FIFA World Cup

Home and Away qualification matches in the UEFA European Football Championships

The Open Golf Championship

Cricket’s Home Ashes Test Matches

Wales matches in the Six Nations Rugby Championship (in Wales only)

The Davies Panel proposed abolishing the Group B List