1. ITV Report

Ministers move to 'protect crown jewels of sport' for free-to-view channels

Currently the television rights to events such as Wimbledon must be offered to free-to-air channels Credit: PA

Ministers will "future-proof" the system that ensures the football World Cup and other major sporting events remain free-to-view, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has said.

The measures constitute amendments to the government's Digital Economy Bill and will likely prove uncontroversial, unlike the Bill itself which has been criticised for giving the government disproportionate powers to pry into people's personal data.

Under the current law the television rights to sport's "crown jewels" - such as the World Cup, the Olympics and Wimbledon - must be offered to free-to-air channels and can be viewed by at least 95 per cent of the population.

But changing media habits mean people increasingly watch shows on devices like tablets and smartphones.

The government says the planned changes will give ministers the power to amend the rules if needed in order to ensure the public can continue to watch the major sporting events for free.

Karen Bradley said the government wants to protect the 'crown jewels' of sports Credit: PA

Ms Bradley said: "We want to future-proof these regulations so that in an ever-changing digital landscape the public will still have access to the crown jewels of sport on free-to-air channels."

What live sporting events are free-to-air?

  • The Olympic Games
  • The FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament
  • The FA Cup Final
  • The Scottish FA Cup Final (in Scotland)
  • The Grand National
  • The Derby
  • The Wimbledon Tennis Finals
  • The European Football Championship Finals Tournament
  • The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final
  • The Rugby World Cup Final

The planned amendments to the Digital Economy Bill are due to go before Parliament in March.