The government has rejected the chance to ensure the Six Nations remains on free-to-air TV by turning down a call to give the Championship Group A status.
Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that the competition could go behind a paywall – with Sky Sports front runners to secure broadcasting rights covering the 2022-24 tournaments – and it resulted in a motion being tabled to Parliament at the start of March.
Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West, submitted the proposal that was also signed by 11 other Welsh MPs. He called for the Six Nations to be put in the Government’s ‘Category A’ of sporting events, thereby ensuring it will be shown live on free-to-air platforms.
But it will remain in the Group B category, opening the door for Sky Sports to try and secure the broadcasting rights of the Six Nations tournaments after the 2021 edition.
Rules prevent the BBC and ITV from making another joint bid after next year’s Six Nations, which could be the last on only free-to-air TV.
DCMS committee chair Julian Knight said: “We’ve been informed by the government today that it has rejected our call to review the listing of the Six Nations Championship to give it Group A status which would have ensured it remained available on free-to-air channels.
“It is very disappointing and a real missed opportunity that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is not even prepared to consider our request.
“It would have given fans hope for the future to see a national event that brings people together was being protected for all. That’s a message that becomes even more important in a time like this.”
5 Players Eddie Jones Should Give Their Debut
With England’s 2020 Guinness Six Nations coming to early end, Coronavirus pending, the next time we see Eddie Jones’ men in competitive action could be when they tour Japan this summer.
Here are five players we’d love to see win their first cap, but probably won’t…
1. Ollie Thorley
The Gloucester wing was named in the 2019 Six Nations squad but remains uncapped and missed out on World Cup selection. The 23-year-old is a wing in the mould of Jonny May – another Gloucester academy product – with lightning pace and the ability to do the unexpected. At 6ft 1in and 15st 8lb, he’s no shrinking violet either. Keeps getting the call, but hasn’t been given a run out.