The possibility of a deal that would move the Six Nations championship behind a paywall has been described as “cruel” by opposition parties.
They said it was particularly unfair during a pandemic when many may not be able to watch in pubs on friends’ homes.
A deal between the Six Nations and CVC Capital Partners is said to have been agreed, and it is thought that the majority of games might move behind a paywall. It is not yet clear whether S4C will be able to continue to show any of the games.
Plaid Cymru’s Sports Spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said that there were many in Wales who do not have the luxury of being able to afford to pay to watch sport on television.
Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds also called on the UK Government to ensure that the Six Nations tournament to remain available on terrestrial television.
“The Six Nations have previously been classed as a ‘Group A’ sporting event, along with the Olympics and FIFA World Cup Finals meaning they need to be shown on free to air channels,” she said.
“I’m today calling on the UK Government to urgently confirm that no fans in Wales will be penalised by any deal.”
Plaid Cymru’s Sports Spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said that with current coronavirus regulations, it was not simply a matter of watching the game in the pub, or popping to a friend’s house to view together.
“Rugby is such an important part of Welsh culture, and the renewal of play during the pandemic has been respite for many,” he said.
“To place a paywall between the Welsh public and their rugby will be a cruel blow at what is already a difficult time.
“With no indoor mixing between households, pubs remaining closed, and fans banned from live games, this paywall will be an insurmountable barrier to many.”
It is understood that the likeliest outcome would be a mix of terrestrial and Pay TV, and it remains to be seen whether S4C would be able to continue to provide coverage of all of Wales’ games, as is the case now.
But there could be a limit on the number of games going behind a paywall as part of the agreement. Some of the contenders are thought to be Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime.