Skip to main content

Broadcasting of Sport: Terrestrial Channels

Volume 638: debated on Thursday 22 March 2018

2. What steps his Department is taking to support the broadcasting of sport on terrestrial television channels. (904522)

Sport is a key element of our national identity and the Government are committed to promoting sport and ensuring its coverage is made available to as many television viewers as possible. The listed events regime operates to make sure that sports events with a national significance can be viewed on free-to-air channels, and the Government are committed to safeguarding the regime.

This week it was an absolute privilege to host in Parliament Dame Katherine Grainger, our most decorated female Olympian and now head of UK Sport. She came with the BBC Sport team as we all launched its new platform that will allow more sports to feature on the BBC website, acting as that platform. Does the Minister agree that this is a way to inspire more people to take up more sport and become Olympians in the future?

I very much agree and congratulate my hon. Friend on his interest in this area and on hosting the launch of the BBC initiative, which I welcome. It will stream over 1,000 hours of extra sport a year, and along with the BBC connected sport app, this scheme will widen access to sports fans across the country. Colleagues who have not yet seen the live guide on the BBC Sport app should definitely check it out.

We rightly protect many major sporting events for terrestrial TV, including the forthcoming FA cup and the FIFA World cup. There is widespread concern across the House that the FIFA World cup will be exploited by Putin as a propaganda coup. What is the Minister doing with the FA, the BBC and FIFA to minimise the opportunities for it to be exploited in that way?

It is understandable that any host nation of a major sporting event, of which the FIFA World cup in Russia is one, likes to announce the event with a fanfare. However, the Government are working closely with the Football Association to give it all the support it needs in terms of security for the team and also guidance to the fans so that they can go to and from the World cup safely.

There can never be enough women’s sport broadcast on TV, and I would always encourage more women’s sport to be on TV. May I take this opportunity to congratulate Manchester United football club, which has finally dragged itself into the 21st century and announced that it will have a women’s football team?

While thinking of the victims of the terrorist outrage last year, all of us on these Benches hope that the families of those who were tragically killed have been looked after.

Can the sports Minister assure us that there will be coverage of the World cup, and will she give an honest answer to this question: does she believe that what the Foreign Secretary said to a Select Committee the other day is good advice?

Needless to say, all the Minister’s answers are honest; whether they satisfy the palate of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) is uncertain, but they are all honest.

First, of course PC Keith Palmer was an avid Charlton Athletic fan, and it was only right that the club respected him by turning his usual red seat at The Valley white with his number written on it, so his memory will always live on at the football club.

On the hon. Gentleman’s second question, I might not have put it in those terms, Mr Speaker.