Politicians Urge Six Nations Return to Free-to-Air TV

The UK Government says they have no plans to review which sporting events are free-to-air, but are looking into whether digital platforms can be included. PHOTO/PA IMAGES

A group of Welsh politicians have called to the Six Nations and the 2028 European Championships to be shown on free-to-air TV.

The Welsh Affairs Select Committee was told matches hosted by streaming companies are attracting substantially lower audiences, despite in 2022, three of the four most-watched programmes in Wales being sporting events.

The UK Government says they have no plans to review which sporting events are free-to-air, but are looking into whether digital platforms can be included.

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.

Rio Dyer (centre) shaking the hand of Warren Gatland after Wales’ latest Six Nations match in Rome Credit: PA

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 chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Stephen Crabb MP, said: “Broadcasting in Wales is a remarkable success story, and has played an important role in shaping Welsh national life over the last century and reinforcing modern Welsh identity. 

“We have a thriving ecosystem of creative talent and successful production companies across Wales which supports jobs and adds real economic value.

Former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP is the Chair of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. Credit: PA Images

“But we are concerned that public service broadcasters are too slow to adapt to the currents of the global broadcasting revolution, and regulation is too weak to ensure a level playing field with the new global streaming giants.

“The UK Government must address this disparity as a matter of urgency and bring forward the long-awaited Media Bill to ensure new prominence rules can protect the PSBs.

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