Bid to make Six Nations free-to-air rejected by UK Government

The Welsh Affairs Select Committee wants the tournament to be added to Group A of the Listed Events Regime. Credit: PA Images

A bid to make the Six Nations free-to-air has been rejected by the UK Government.

The calls had come from the Welsh Affairs Select Committee who want the tournament to be added to Group A of the Listed Events Regime.

The UK Government says listing an event in Group A or B does not guarantee that it will be available free-to-air, and rejected the committee’s calls to undertake a review of the lists.

Six Nations matches which include the home nations are currently a Category B sporting event, which means they can be shown behind a paywall as long as there are highlights or delayed coverage made available to free-to-air broadcasters.

The Olympics and Paralympics are two of the 12 sporting events which must be free-to-air in the UK. Credit: PA images

There are currently 12 sporting events which must be shown on free-to-air TV, known as Category A events, which include the men's and women's World Cup Finals as well as the Olympics and Paralympics.

The committee first made its calls to change the listing of the Six Nations back in October of last year.

At the time, the UK Government says it has no plans to review which sporting events are free-to-air but is looking into whether digital platforms can be included.

Today, the committee says it welcomes the government's moves to introduce a new online prominence framework to ensure public service broadcasting content is given protected prominence across major television platforms.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

Welsh Affairs Committee Chair, Stephen Crabb MP, said: “Welsh broadcasting is a major success, and can attract international partners to invest and produce high quality programming that can be enjoyed by international audiences.

"But as our Committee made clear in October, broadcasting in Wales can be even better, including the protection and provision of more Welsh language content and securing major sporting events free-to-air.

“While it is of course disappointing that the UK Government does not feel it necessary to amend the listed events to include the Six Nations, the general support it is offering to the Welsh broadcasting sector is warmly welcomed.

"Its response, published today, outlines a number of initiatives and policies that continue to support broadcasting in Wales, some of which are underpinned by the Media Bill.

"Our Committee will continue to monitor the passage of the Media Bill through Parliament.” 

Which sporting events are currently free-to-air in the UK?

  • All matches of the FIFA World Cup

  • All matches of the FIFA Women's World Cup

  • All matches of the UEFA European Championship

  • FA Cup Final

  • Scottish Cup Final

  • Grand National

  • Epsom Derby

  • Challenge Cup final

  • Rugby Union World Cup final

  • The men's and women's Wimbledon Championships finals

  • Olympic Games

  • Paralympic Games

The current deal for the rights to show Six Nations matches, which is shared by ITV and the BBC, is due to expire next year.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…