Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Panel to review free sport on TV

Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final
Wimbledon finals weekend is currently on the A list of protected events

A panel of experts is to review the list of sporting events reserved for free-to-air television.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham says it is vital the list "moves with the times and people's tastes".

Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson and Test cricketer Angus Fraser will join sports presenters Eamonn Holmes and Dougie Donnelly on the panel.

The list of so-called sporting "crown jewels" includes the Olympics and the football World Cup finals.

Mr Burnham announced the review at a Royal Television Society conference in London in September, saying it was time to look at whether the right events were protected to serve the public interest.


The list was last reviewed 10 years ago when Test match cricket was removed.

A-list events

The review is being led by former Football Association chief David Davies.

His panel will also include England women's football coach Hope Powell, journalist Nick Pollard and Professor Chris Gratton, of the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.

Completing the line-up are businesswoman Penny Hughes and investment banker Michael Pescod.

Olympic Games
Fifa World Cup Finals
European Football Championships
FA Cup Final
Scottish Cup Final
Wimbledon (finals weekend)
The Grand National
The Derby
Rugby League Challenge Cup Final
Rugby World Cup Final

In 1998, the government added certain events to the list of crown jewels - or A list - those deemed too important to be restricted to people with satellite or cable television.

They included the European Football Championship finals, the Rugby League Challenge Cup final and the Rugby Union World Cup final.

Already on the list were events including the Olympic Games, Wimbledon and the Grand National.

Domestic Test cricket was relegated to the B list, allowing subscription broadcasters to bid for the right to screen matches, provided there were satisfactory arrangements in place for a terrestrial broadcaster to show highlights.

The Ashes, the rugby Six Nations and Ryder Cup golf are also not currently guaranteed as free-to-air.

The review will cover three main areas: the principle of having a list; its content; and the criteria determining which events may be listed.

Cricket Test matches played in England
Non-finals at Wimbledon
Six Nations Rugby matches (involving home nations)
All other Rugby World Cup matches
Commonwealth Games
World Athletics Championship
Cricket World Cup (finals, semi-finals and matches involving home nations)
The Open Golf Championship
The Ryder Cup

It will seek opinions from broadcasters, rights holders and the public, and is expected to be completed some time in the second half of 2009.

Mr Davies said: "I am delighted that we have secured such a range of expertise and I look forward to working with the panel as the review moves forward over the coming year."

In September, the culture secretary said sports broadcasting was "one of the most powerful areas where [the] sense of community through television is most profoundly felt".

"It is because I believe in television's social role - its power to include and involve - that I continue to believe resolutely in the principle of a protected list of sporting events set by the government," he said.

Mr Burnham revealed that the review would "weigh the public interest with the demands and discipline of the market and the implications for the funding and development of individual sports".

And on Wednesday, he added: "I am very grateful to the panel members who have offered their time free of charge to help David Davies establish which events should be protected so the widest possible audience can see them for free."

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