House of Commons Library

Listed sporting events

Published Friday, June 9, 2017

This Commons Library briefing paper summarises the framework through which certain sporting events are "listed" to make them available to as many television viewers as possible.

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The Broadcasting Act 1996 (as amended) gives the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport the power to designate key sporting and other events as “listed events”. The purpose of this is to ensure that such events are made available to all television viewers, particularly those who do not have subscription television.

The current list was compiled in June 1998 and consists of two groups of events. For Group A events, full live coverage must be offered to the free-to-air channels that are received by at least 95% of the UK population (i.e. BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5). This group includes the FA Cup Final, the Grand National and the Olympic Games.

Group B events may have live coverage on subscription television provided that secondary coverage is offered to free-to-air broadcasters. This group includes the Six Nations rugby union tournament, the Ryder Cup, and cricket test matches played in England.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 gives the Secretary of State the power to amend the 95% qualifying condition. This is designed to ‘future-proof’ the listed events regime as the devices people use to watch sport changes.

In December 2008 the Labour Government announced that a review of listed events would be carried out by an independent advisory panel. The panel reported in November 2009 and supported the continued protection of some major sporting events. However it recommended that there should be a single list of live events, with some current events de-listed.

The Coalition Government said that it would not make any decision on the future of listed events until after the conclusion of digital switchover.

In its sport strategy, published in December 2015, the current Government said that it did not intend to reopen discussion on listed events. The national governing bodies of sports and other rights holders should be left to “strike the right balance between reaching a wide audience and using their rights to generate as much revenue as possible”.

Commons Briefing papers SN00802

Author: John Woodhouse

Topics: Broadcasting, Sports and Olympic Games

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