HC Deb 25 June 1998 vol 314 cc600-1W
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement about the outcome of his review of major events listed under Part IV of the Broadcasting Act 1996. [47969]

Mr. Chris Smith

My review of the list is now complete. I have conducted it in the light of the criteria which I published last year. I consulted widely on the criteria and the content of the list and I have carefully considered the many representations made to me. I have accepted the general principles of the report produced by the Advisory Group chaired by Lord Gordon of Strathblane.

With immediate effect, I am revising the list of events under Part IV of the Broadcasting Act 1996.

I am retaining the following events on the list, requiring live coverage to be made available to free-to-air terrestrial television broadcasters (in Category A as specified in the 1996 Act):

  • 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.

I am adding the following events to the list on the same basis:

  • The European Football Championship Finals Tournament
  • The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final
  • The Rugby World Cup Final.

After careful consideration of the Advisory Group's recommendations, I have concluded that a number of the matches in the World Cup and European Championships football qualifying tournaments meet the criteria for listing. I believe that it is important that crucial ties in these competitions should be available to all viewers and therefore intend to seek Europe-wide arrangements for protecting free-to-air live broadcasts of crucial matches in these competitions.

I am also listing some further events on a different understanding. For these events, I have recommended to the Independent Television Commission that live coverage might be allowed to be shown exclusively by a Category B broadcaster (as specified in the 1996 Act), provided there are satisfactory arrangements for secondary coverage by a Category A broadcaster. I have asked the ITC to consider setting a minimum acceptable standard for such secondary coverage, to include some combination of delayed full coverage, highlights and live radio commentary.

The events I am listing on this understanding are:

  • Cricket Test Matches played in England
  • Non-Finals play in the Wimbledon Tournament
  • All Other Matches in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament
  • Five 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.

Forward to