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Six Nations should remain free-to-air – Senedd Sport Committee

25 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Emily Price

The Senedd’s Sport Committee is today calling for the rugby Six Nations Championship to be added to a protected list of free-to-air TV events.

The Committee has recommended that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport move the Six Nations from being a Group B event to being Group A as part of the listed events regime under the Broadcasting Act 1996.

This would mean that the Six Nations would join the FA Cup Final, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Women’s Football World Cup and European Championships as protected free-to-air tournaments.

The Committee is urging the Welsh Government support its recommendations.

In January, the UK Government rejected a similar call after concerns were raised that the live event could become subscription only.

A UK Government Minister later said Welsh rugby could be viewed for free if the Senedd asked for it.


Delyth Jewell MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee said: “Rugby in Wales plays a unique role in our national life, and in particular the Six Nations, holds a special place for Welsh audiences.

“This was never far from our minds when we made the decision to call for it to be protected as a free-to-air tournament.

“We’ve heard loudly and clearly about the challenges the sport faces in terms of reduced playing numbers in Wales. Concerns have equally been raised with us about the effects of placing the tournament behind a paywall and the impact that could have on playing numbers – we were told that ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’

“Many recognise the damaging effects that have been seen by putting cricket in the UK behind a paywall in 2006. Between 2006 and 2015, there was a 32% reduction in playing numbers. The same cannot be allowed to happen to rugby.

“Growing up, young people in Wales are inspired to take part in sport by watching rugby and it’s essential that the Six Nations tournament stays as accessible as possible.”

The Committee also says Welsh language broadcasting of the Six Nations must be protected.

Today’s report calls for the UK Government to take steps to protect full Welsh language coverage of the rugby tournament.

Ms Jewell added:”Welsh language coverage must be offered in full. Providing Welsh language coverage is essential, not only in offering a choice to Welsh speakers, but also to promote the Welsh language to both speakers and learners alike as we work towards Cymraeg 2050 target.”

Responding to the Senedd Committee’s report Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Culture, Heledd Fychan MS said: “From the grassroots level to the international game, rugby isn’t just a sport here in Wales. It’s a part of our culture and identity – and free coverage has the ability to inspire the next generation of players.

“Plaid Cymru welcomes the committee’s recommendations, and is firm in its belief that Westminster’s short-sighted decision not to designate the Six Nations Championship as free-to-air perfectly incapsulates why broadcasting must be devolved to Wales. We must be able to make decisions to safeguard our culture and language.”

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