House of Commons Library

Listed sporting events

Published Friday, October 4, 2019

This Library briefing paper looks at listed sporting events.

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The Broadcasting Act 1996 (as amended) gives the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport the power to draw up a list of sporting events of national interest. This ensures that the broadcast rights to these events must be offered to the main free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters on “fair and reasonable terms”. The aim is to make sure that the events are made available to all television viewers.

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. 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 the free-to-air broadcasters. This group includes the Six Nations rugby union tournament, the Ryder Cup, and cricket test matches played in England.

The Secretary of State can, after consultation, add and delete events from the list at any time.

The future of the list

In its December 2015 sport strategy, the Government said that it did not plan to reopen discussion of listed events.

In June 2019, Tom Watson, the Shadow Secretary of State, called for women’s sports events, such as the Football World Cup, to be added to the list.

On 18 July 2019, the then Secretary of State, Jeremy Wright, announced a "limited consultation on adding the Paralympic games to the listed events regime". Mr Wright said that the Government did “not wish to reopen the list of events for a full review”. However, it was “committed to supporting more equality in the coverage of sport on TV, and in particular, disability and women in sport”.  A consultation on adding women’s sporting events to the list will be held later in the year.


Commons Briefing papers SN00802

Author: John Woodhouse

Topics: Broadcasting, Sports and Olympic Games

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