Assembly Members demand Six Nations remains free to watch over broadcasting sale fears

Wales’ Josh Adams scores his side’s second try of the game during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Adam Davy/PA Wire/PA Images.

Assembly Members have written to the Welsh Rugby Union to ask them to do whatever they can to ensure that the Six Nations remains free for everyone to watch.

Fears have been raised after The Six Nations entered a period of negotiation with private equity firm CVC. The deal would provide a financial boost to each union but would mean partly surrendering control of the competition, which could mean selling the broadcasting rights to a paywall channel.

The UK Govt are refusing to add the Six Nations to a list of sports events which must be made available to watch live on free-to-air channels.

The Broadcasting Act 1996 gives the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport the power to draw up a list of sporting events of national interest. This means that the broadcast rights to these events must be offered to the main free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters on “fair and reasonable terms”.

The list currently includes the Rugby and Football World Cup Finals, Grand National, Wimbledon, FA and Scottish FA Cup Final and the Olympic and Paralympic games. However the Six Nations championship is not included.

 

‘Crash’

The letter signed by 15 Labour Assembly Members asks the WRU to attempt to resist a move to a pay-to-view service.

“We ask you to strongly resist any moves to place these matches behind paywalls, which would put distance between the national team and and the nation of Wales, and between Welsh fans and players and our national game of rugby,” the letter signed by 15 Labour Assembly Members says.

“We have alrady seen what happens when sport disappears behind paywalls: when broadcasting rights for cricket were bought by Sky, participation rates plummeted in the following decade; and when Sky took formula 1 behind a paywall, audience viewing rates in the UK crashed.

“We want to avoid the worrying prospect of participation in grassroots rugby in Wales and support for our national team being devestated by hiding the showcase of the game – the Six Nations matches – behind pay-to-view channels. The importance of rugby to our culture is hard to overstate, as is the importance of the Six Nations to inspiring the next generation of players.”

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Charles L. Gallagher
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Charles L. Gallagher

I used to enjoy the Six Nations but since ‘money/greed’ came on the scene the real fun has gone out of the game. When I do travel to an away International I go for the comradeship that comes from meeting and having a few beers with fellow supporters both home and away and I very rarely attend the stadium. In fact, I prefer to go and watch my local ‘amateur’ team where the true spirit of the rugby family still exists but I still like seeing England getting stuffed.

j humphrys
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j humphrys

I remember being up in Edinburgh once and a Wales fan was hanging onto a lamp post, and some Scots fans were helping him up………before the game, this!

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Sadly that stadium in Cardiff has the atmosphere of a shabby nightclub with deafening “music” pre-match and anytime anyone scores. Add to that the thousands who can’t watch a game for 5 minutes without sinking another pint, and whoopee you have the recipe for a nightmare experience. That all means that I rely on my TV for access to international rugby. For club matches I can travel locally and watch clubs at all levels, or even my region if I’m feeling brave. Mr Gallagher mentions money/greed and I concur that commercialism, inevitable in the wake of professionalisation in 1995, has… Read more »

Leigh Richards
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Leigh Richards

Would help if the same Labour AMs who’ve signed this letter would get their party in wales to support the devolution of broadcasting to Wales – the british govt’s dept of media, culture and sport wouldnt have any say in the broadcast of wales matches then

Cambro
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Cambro

As much as I’d like to think that’d make a difference… I don’t think it will. We’re in a time where devolution is more likely to be rolled back than anything else. Broadcasting/Media is one of the biggest tools Westminster has in shaping the world views of those it governs. It’d be like asking the USA to give up its nukes.

Huw J Davies
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Huw J Davies

Assembly Members writing to the WRU is pointless. The 6 Nations would have to be declared a protected free to air event by the UK Government and there is far too much money involved for that to happen. It sounds more like a publicity stunt (look at me, I’m one of the people, I follow rugby, I support my team…) trying to prove their ‘Welshness’ before the Assembly elections. As that English bard had that Scottish King saying “…full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.” In Welsh we say ‘Diwedd y gan yw y geiniog’. The future of the 6… Read more »

Ann Owen
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Ann Owen

Haven’t those Labour AMs just given the UK Government their greatest rationale for not making it free to view – because it IS a part of our culture and DOES bolster Welsh identity! Boris Johnson and gang don’t want that! But it is a disgrace if it doesn’t remain free to view. We must get broadcasting devolved – hope those Labour AMs now realise that too!

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Labour A.M’s have very little capacity for joined up thinking except where it comes to self interest, hence all the posturing and virtue signalling ( They are not alone in that characteristic !) We already have the disgraceful posturing of Labour M.P’s protesting against NHS performance when their own A.M colleagues have the overriding responsibility. A bit more posturing about sports coverage will be minor in comparison.