Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list

The Conservatives, if they win the election, will cut the "A-list" of protected sporting events that must, by law, be broadcast live on free-to-air television.

The Conservatives, if they win the election, will cut the “A list” of protected sporting events that must, by law, be broadcast live on free-to-air television. Shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson, who last month told BBC radio’s 5 Live Sport he opposed the Ashes returning to free-to-air TV, has revealed that he would “favour a smaller rather than a larger A-list”.

He said:

“We shall have a rigorous economic review of the impact of the Davies’ proposals but we favour a shorter A list of sports that are on free to air and a return to the B list showing highlights packages on terrestrial television.”

Mr Robertson’s remarks were seized upon by culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, who claimed Rupert Murdoch was pulling the strings of Tory TV rights policy, accusing the Conservatives of “dancing to the News International tune”. He said:

“The revelation that the Conservatives intend to take some of our most loved national sporting events off free-to-air television shows that they haven’t changed a bit.

“Events like the FA Cup, the Olympics, Wimbledon, and of course this Saturday’s Grand National are a big part of our national culture and heritage, and having guaranteed terrestrial coverage of them is something the British public values and takes seriously. They shouldn’t have to pay more to see the crown jewels of British sport.

“Sports fans up and down the country will be dismayed by yet another example of the Tories dancing to the News International tune.”

The Tories had previously said they would welcome the publication of the David Davies review into TV sports rights. Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Newcastle Journal last November that the Conservative Party “entirely accepts the principle of a listed events regime”. On the issue of the Ashes returning to free-to-air TV, Mr Robertson had also described the proposals as “very foolish“.

In every other Test-playing country some home international matches are broadcast live on free-to-air TV. In Britain, the last time a Test was broadcast live on free-to-air was the final Test of the 2005 Ashes; the last one day international was the 1999 World Cup Final.

Currently, the only events covered by the A-List are the Olympic Games, the World Cup, the European Championships, the FA Cup, the Scottish Cup, the Grand National, the Derby, the Wimbledon finals, the Challenge Cup Final and the rugby World Cup Final. The events on the “B-List” – where highlights are guaranteed on free-to-air – include home Tests, the Six Nations, the World Athletics Championship, the cricket World Cup, the Ryder Cup and The Open.

43 Responses to “Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list”

  1. Jon Harvey

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  2. David Reilly

    Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb (@leftfootfwd)

  3. Mark

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  4. Tom Trevelyan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  5. John

    RT @leftfootfwd Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb <nooo! It's already all fecking darts & snooker..

  6. Shamik Das

    The Tories: For Murdoch, not the many: RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  7. leebo

    Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb /via @leftfootfwd / Murdoch influence in full effect

  8. ralasdair

    Tories want to get rid of legally free-to-air sport. I wonder why THAT might be, eh Sky!? http://bit.ly/dxiEX7

  9. Gary

    RT @ralasdair: Tories want to get rid of legally free-to-air sport. I wonder why THAT might be, eh Sky!? http://bit.ly/dxiEX7

  10. James Cowley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  11. Jeff Myers

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  12. John Cox

    Ryder Cup Tories plan to slash free-to-air tv sports list | Left Foot Forward: The events on the “B-List” – where … http://bit.ly/belMt9

  13. Peter Ptashko

    “Sports fans up & down the country will be dismayed by another example of Tories dancing to the News International tune”http://bit.ly/9IKoR7

  14. Malcolm Evison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  15. Tommy Norton

    well that's just great… RT: leftfootfwd Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  16. Ciaran Norris

    RT @garytomwilliams: RT @ralasdair: Tories to get rid of legally free-to-air sport. Wonder why THAT might be, eh Sky!? http://bit.ly/dxiEX7

  17. Andrew Tennant

    RT @Nissemus RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list: http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  18. Les Crompton

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  19. Alan W

    Murdoch says jump. Cameron says how high?

  20. Mister Jabberwock

    hmmm hold on a minute aren’t you attacking the suggestion that the Tories might be so mendacious that they would have the same policy as labour has had for the last 10 years. Outrageous I say! clearly same old Tories….

  21. paulwmk

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  22. Mr. Sensible

    Yet more evidence that Tory media policy is set by News International.

    I think that as much sport should be available to the many as possible. The sports governing bodies complain about losing money to put in to the grass routes, but you can have all the grass routes spending in the world, but if people can’t watch the sport participation goes down.

  23. Ed

    I would doubt that Sky actually want more rights- there comes a point where even Murdoch would say enough is enough. Sky are making a sizable profit with their current rights so I don’t they would desire any of the events on the A-List unless the price was dirt cheap.

  24. Grand National watcher

    Shocking stuff. There would be uproar if the Grand National went from free to air. Another reason to keep them out.

  25. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – People can watch their sports – subscribe to Sky. I am forced to pay for the BBC and NEVER watch anything other than News 24 and only listen to 5 Live, R2 and R4. Is that fair?

    What worries me is that governments allow companies to invest in and set up companies and products people love, like Sky TV or cell phones – whatever and then start controlling them when they become profitable.

    The BBC is a hideously unfair and expensive way to watch sports in this country and various sports would be lost without Sky.

    Personally, considering your blog shows your love of sports Shamik, (cricket etc) I find it hard to believe you want to take money, from whatever source, away from the football clubs in this country.

    You must surely know how much the smaller clubs and minority sports rely on Sky. Bet you’ve got a Sky Sports subscription yourself….

    More Sky – less BBC I say…

  26. Edward Mitchel-Jones

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  27. Mr. Sensible

    Mr Mouse, if I may so call you, the BBC makes a lot of its content available to a wide range of the population.

    I myself, like you, listen to 5 live often, as well as my local BBC Radio Station; Radio Nottingham.

    Whilst I have Sky, there is a lot of people who may not be able to afford it.

    And, if you make a sport available to less people, participation inevitably drops.

    There was I think less reaction to winning the ashes in 2009 compared to 2005.

  28. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – Perhaps we should have a public broadcaster that reads out the number of tractors the country has manufactured each month – this is a digital age we are in – shove the BBC on a card and let those who watch it pay for it. Then we may have less reality shows produced and less Eastenders and the like.

    The cost of the BBC is excessive and is a tax on owning a TV for which I have already paid VA Tax to buy it and VA Tax on the electricity to use it even if I don’t watch the BBC.

    There may be many people who can’t afford to watch sports on Sky but I can’t afford a Porsche or a Merc either. It sounds great and I agree on the numbers watching but where does it say stuff should be free?

    Next you’ll be telling me education in this country is no longer free under a Labour government…

  29. Robert

    Sports viewing for those who can afford to pay for it?

    Politics favouring the few who can pay, not the many who struggle to make ends meet?

    This Tory policy stinks.

  30. Ashes Cup

    Tories plan to slash free-to-air tv sports list | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/belMt9

  31. Pete Bowler

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to slash free-to-air TV sports list http://bit.ly/cWtudb

  32. evidence based really?

    So when Labour took events like the ashes off that was evidence based and progressive?? At the time a deal with Murdoch maybe??

    To use the example of cricket, the extra money from not being on the protected list means thats there has millions more for grass routes- often in poorer areas cricket- i thought you lefties were all for that?

    Presumably principle goes out the window when there cheap political points to be had.

  33. Anon E Mouse

    Robert – “Sports viewing for those who can afford to pay for it?”

    You mean like everything else in the world? Have you missed the point about the forced and expensive tax called a TV licence?

    Personally I’d like to spend weeks in the Hilton in the Bahamas (preferably with Halle Berry) but I can’t afford it. We are in an election here man – get real please.

  34. Mr. Sensible

    “To use the example of cricket, the extra money from not being on the protected list means thats there has millions more for grass routes- often in poorer areas”

    ‘Evidence-based really?’ I’ve answered that one already. It’s OK saying you can invest in the grass routes ETC, but if it is not available to people to watch, participation goes down, and thus that grass routes investment is effectively wasted.
    And what about the extra sponsership?

    And Mr Mouse, you cannot just treat sport like it’s a free market, at least if you want good participation to remain stable.

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  36. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – That’s exactly what you’re doing by putting it on the BBC which is taxed via a licence fee. In any event do you not accept what Sky have done for an awful lot of sports – the sports that have benefited certainly do. I would suggest that in professional sports the influx of money, like in the US arena is a good thing….

    Essentially you are having a cyclic argument with yourself….

  37. Shamik Das

    If sport is to continue to thrive, it must be available to the widest possible audience; it serves a greater purpose than merely lining Murdoch’s pocket.

  38. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – My point is that being forced to pay for a TV licence is unfair.

    Rupert Murdoch is simply a businessman whose views you disagree with. Ask the Premier League if they like Murdoch or even better confirm to the blog here that you refuse to have a subscription to Sky Sports…

    I pay for the BBC because I am forced to legally. Anyone who has a Sky Sports subscription, including Gordon Brown (except we taxpayers pay for it) chooses to line the pockets of Murdoch by their own free will.

    So in the means of transparency Shamik do you watch Sky Sports at home or in pubs or at all?

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  40. whatever next

    Don’t blame the ‘tories, as this move has been under discussion for many months now and this is under labour. Nothing but a lot of scare mongers

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