BBC says Ashes, Commonwealth Games and Winter Olympics should be free-to-air

LONDON - The Ashes, the Commonwealth Games and the Winter Olympics should be included in the list of events that must be shown on free-to-air television, according to a submission to the department for culture media and sport from the BBC.

Sport:s coverage: BBC responds to free-to-air proposals
Sport:s coverage: BBC responds to free-to-air proposals

An independent report into free-to-air listed events led by broadcaster David Davies was published in November. The BBC's submission is a response to the DCMS's consultation on Davies' proposals, which ends today (19 March).

The BBC agrees with the Davies report that the Ashes join the free-to-air list, citing evidence from 2009 which showed that more people watched the Ashes highlights on Five – 7.3 million –  than watched the Sky coverage, (6.2 million).

The report recommended that only the summer Olympic Games remain on the free-to-air list. However, the BBC said the winter games should also remain free-to-air because it was a "pre-eminent international event and delivers a similar level of audience interest as the European Football Championship Finals Tournament".

The BBC also suggested the Commonwealth Games, which were not included in the report, should be added to the free-to-air list because it had a "particular resonance in the UK's nations and can deliver significant value to audiences as England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland compete as separate teams".

A spokesman from the DCMS confirmed it had received more than 100 submissions on the issue of free-to-air sporting events, 18 of which were from major organisations, and that ministers would decide the next step after examining all the evidence.

The BBC's recommendations are broadly in line with its initial submission on the issue of free to air sports events, which was submitted to the first consultation in July 2009.

The Davies report suggested the following events be protected for free to air coverage:

  • The Summer Olympic Games (currently both summer and winter)
  • FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament
  • UEFA European Football Championship Finals Tournament
  • The Grand National
  • The FA Cup Final in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (previously across UK)
  • The Scottish FA Cup (in Scotland only)
  • Home and away qualification matches in the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Football Championships (listed in the Home Nation to which they relate)
  • The entire All-England Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship (currently the finals)
  • The Open Golf Championship (currently only secondary coverage)
  • Cricket’s home Ashes Test matches (Cricket Test Matched in England currently receive secondary protection)
  • The Rugby Union World Cup Tournament (previously the final)
  • Wales matches in the Six Nations Rugby Championship in Wales (previously Six Nations Rugby Tournament matches Involving home countries had secondary protection)

The events to leave the free-to-air list were The Derby and the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final

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