BBC calls for more protected sports rights

By Andrew Laughlin, Technology Reporter

The BBC has called on the government to expand the current list of sporting events that are protected for broadcast on free-to-air television, according to BBC News.

For the first time since 1998, the government is reviewing the listing system for protected sporting events, with Football Association chief executive David Davies appointed to oversee the consultation.
In response to this, the BBC wants the review panel to add home nation football qualifiers for the World Cup and European Championship to the list, along with coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

According to the corporation, the protected list is essential because limiting access to certain key sporting events solely to pay TV platforms "would threaten the fabric of our sporting and cultural nation".

BBC chief operating officer Dominic Coles added: "The BBC believes the list works well and delivers a healthy mix of pay television and free to air sport; plurality which preserves key sporting moments for the whole UK public, encouraging sports participation whilst delivering sufficient funding into UK sport to deliver the extensive range of great sport we enjoy.

"In an increasingly fragmented society, the ability to broadcast, freely available to all, those major events that can unite communities and deliver social value cannot be underestimated.

"Imagine the London Olympics, or perhaps a 2018 World Cup hosted in England, not being universally available for the whole UK to enjoy irrespective of individual financial circumstance."

Under the proposals, the BBC also wants the ICC cricket World Cup and the Twenty20 World Cup to join the list, along with the Welsh Six Nations and autumn rugby internationals.

Coles added: "We are also recommending in our submission a modest shift in the current list, recognising the importance of particular sporting events across the UK, such as live cricket, and in the devolved regions, such as their national football qualifying matches."

Results from the review panel's consultation are expected to be announced this autumn.