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Scotland games 'should be free'

27 September 08 10:32 GMT

A review of sports shown free on terrestrial television must include Scotland football games, the SNP has urged.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said the time was right to look at whether the correct events were protected.

The list of so-called sporting "Crown Jewels" was last reviewed 10 years ago when Test match cricket was removed.

The SNP said it was a "disgrace" that Scotland's football matches were only available on subscription television.

None of Scotland's qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup is being shown on terrestrial channels.

Mr Burnham said sports broadcasting was "one of the most powerful areas where that 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 told a Royal Television Society conference in London.

He said the independent 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".

SNP MSP Keith Brown, who led a Scottish Parliament debate calling for a review of the situation, said: "Earlier this year I called on the UK Government to look at the list of TV Crown Jewels and to consider putting some or all of Scotland's qualifying matches on free-to-air television - this is a welcome start but there is more to do.

"This review must listen to the voices of Scotland fans who want to watch Scotland's qualifying matches with their friends or family in the comfort of their own homes."

In 1998, the government added certain events to the list of crown jewels - or A list - which were 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.

Mr Burnham said more details about the review would be announced shortly and the results would be expected some time next year.

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