Thursday, June 25, 1998 Published at 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
'Crown jewels': cricket out, rugby and football in
Clean bowled? BBC has spent decades at the crease
The European Football Championship Finals, the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final and the Rugby Union World Cup Final are to be placed on a revised list of "crown jewels" - those events considered too important to be restricted to people with satellite or cable TV.
This category will allow subscription broadcasters to bid for exclusive coverage rights provided there are satisfactory arrangements for secondary coverage by a terrestrial broadcaster.
The BBC has covered Test matches in England for the last 50 years but now looks likely to lose out to satellite television.
New set of guarantees
Making the announcement in a Commons written reply, Culture Secretary Chris Smith said he was determined to ensure that terrestrial broadcasters did get good quality access to secondary coverage even if subscription broadcasters, such as satellite and cable stations, won the primary rights.
In addition to the above football and rugby finals which he wants to place on the "A list", Mr Smith said he believed that crucial ties in the football World Cup and European Championship qualifying competitions should also qualify for the highest status.
He said he therefore intended to seek Europe-wide arrangements for protecting free-to-air live broadcasts of crucial matches in these competitions.
The extended protection for football was welcomed by England coach Glenn Hoddle, who expressed his approval for the package.
"I'm delighted when the biggest possible audience sees England's vital matches. Any plans that ensure that happens in the future I welcome," said Mr Hoddle. "I know it is what the fans want. So do I," he added.
From A to B
The actual split announced by Mr Smith differs, however, from that put forward by the committee, which included broadcaster and journalist Michael Parkinson and former world champion athlete Steve Cram.
The revised lists are as follows:
The "B list":