Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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Have your say on listed Free-to-Air Television events

Have your say on listed Free-to-Air Television events

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (054/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service on 8 April 2009

TV viewers are today being asked which major national events they would like to see on free-to-air television.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has appointed ex-FA Chief David Davies to review the list of events that are protected for free broadcast coverage. Mr Davies and a panel of sport, broadcast and business experts are now seeking public views on which events should be included on the list, which currently includes the Wimbledon tennis finals, the Grand National and other major sporting events.

The list was last revised in 1998 and currently includes only major sports events, although legislation does allow the inclusion of non-sporting events.

David Davies said:

"The Panel has already had some lively debates on the issues raised in the consultation and we are very much looking forward to having access to the views of the many people who we know feel so passionately about this subject."

The Broadcasting Act 1996 allows the Secretary of State to draw up a list of sporting and other events of national importance, with the aim of giving them the widest possible broadcast coverage.

The public consultation, launched today, is seeking views on three main areas:

* the principle of having a list;
* the criteria against which events may be listed; and
* the content of any list itself, including whether any non-sporting events meet the criteria.

David Davies will be taking part in a live Downing Street webchat on listed events at 3.15pm on Tuesday 21 April. See: http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/webchats

Notes for editors

1. The public consultation, which runs for 12 weeks, is open to all and can be found at: http://www.culture.gov.uk/freetoair/index.html

2. The current list of sporting events protected under the Broadcasting Act 1996 is:

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 Derby
The Wimbledon tennis finals
The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final
The Rugby World 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

3. EU Member states are entitled to draw up a list of events which are generally felt to have special national resonance to ensure, so far as possible, that they are broadcast on free-to-air television.

4. The Government aims to ensure that these key events are available to as much of the population as possible and has outlined criteria for 'qualifying' broadcasters that meet that objective. Those criteria are that the service is received by at least 95% of the UK population and at no additional cost to the viewer (excluding the television licence fee). The services currently meeting these criteria (qualifying broadcasters) are BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five. Five was added to the list in March 2008.

5. The first list was drawn up in 1956 between the BBC and the then Independent Broadcasting Authority. The list was reviewed in 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1998.

6. The following criteria were considered relevant when the 1998 list was drawn up:

* The event and its outcome has a special national resonance, not simply a significance to those who ordinarily follow the sport concerned;

* It is a pre-eminent and popular event giving it particular potential for encouraging participation in the sport concerned;

* It is an event which serves to unite the nation; a shared point in the national calendar;

* It involves the national team in the sport concerned in a major international tournament.

7. In December 2008 the Secretary of State appointed David Davies, former Executive Director of the Football Association, to lead a review and possible overhaul of the free-to-air list.

In January 2009 David Davies appointed a panel to support him in his review of listed events. See DCMS press release 008/09.

Public enquiries: 020 7211 6020
http://www.culture.gov.uk

2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
http://www.culture.gov.uk

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