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Welsh Tory MPs slammed for voting against free-to-air Six Nations coverage

30 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Photo David Davies, PA Images

Welsh Tory MPs have been slammed for failing to support a motion that would have ensured that the Six Nations would be offered to free-to-air broadcasters.

Conservative MPs from Wales voted against a Plaid Cymru-SNP amendment in the House of Commons, despite Welsh Tories tabling a similar motion in the Senedd

The Six Nations is not currently on the group A list of sporting events, which includes the football World Cup, FA Cup final and Olympic or Paralympic Games.

These ‘crown jewel’ events are made available to public service broadcasters, who must be given the opportunity to purchase the rights on fair and reasonable terms, though there is no obligation on broadcasters to purchase the rights or on rights holders to accept any offer from those broadcasters.

The Six Nations is currently a Group B event, where there is only a provision for highlights to be made available to free-to-air broadcasters.

Plaid Cymru and the SNP’s new clause would have added the Six Nations, among other championships, to the group A list.

To date the event has always been on free-to-air television, but there is uncertainty over what will happen when the BBC and ITV’s current deal runs out at the end of the 2025 tournament.

Senedd debate

The Welsh Conservatives are set to hold a debate in the Senedd on Wednesday (31 January) calling on the UK Government to include Welsh six nations rugby games in the free-to-air category for broadcasting purposes.

Their MPs voted against the amendment in Westminster.

Plaid Cymru has accused the Welsh Conservatives of  being “all over the place” on the issue.

In its report published in October, the Welsh Affairs Committee called for the Six Nations rugby tournament to be included in Group A of the Listed Events Regime. In response, the UK Government rejected the Committee’s calls to undertake a review of the lists.

Hywel Williams MP, who was a member of the Media Bill Committee, said: “Keeping rugby accessible is crucial for the future of the game – so it’s disappointing that Tory MPs from Wales failed to support efforts to add the Six Nations to the list of Group A events.

“It’s particularly embarrassing given their colleagues in the Senedd have tabled a motion calling for the very same thing tomorrow. The Tories are all over the place on this issue.

“Plaid Cymru has long called on the UK Government to ensure that the Six Nations must remain free. The championship inspires countless young Welsh women and men to pursue their ambitions in the game, which is essential for the health of rugby at a grassroots level.

“The Welsh Affairs Committee, the DCMS Committee, and the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language and International Relations Committee have called for the tournament to remain available to free-to-air broadcasters.

“Both the Six Nations and the game of rugby itself is an integral part of Welsh culture and identity. Losing the rights would be a blow not only for broadcasters but for our rich sporting culture in Wales.

“Plaid Cymru will continue to fight to keep Welsh sports as open and accessible for all.”

Protection

Responding to Welsh Affairs Committee’s call last week, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “The listed events regime aims to ensure many of the nation’s biggest sporting events are free-to-air wherever possible while protecting competition organisers’ ability to raise income from the sale of broadcast rights to invest in their sports.

“We believe the current list strikes an appropriate balance, with protections in place for highlights of the Six Nations tournament and live coverage of the Rugby World Cup final, and therefore have no plans to amend the regime.”


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Bob
Bob
24 days ago

Welsh Conservatives – an oxymoron

Clive Bradley
Clive Bradley
23 days ago
Reply to  Bob

You beat me to it!

Jeff
Jeff
24 days ago

Cons are salting the earth. Were they whipped or was it a free vote, amendments in the system dont make it obvious.

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
24 days ago

They always vote that’s for anything that is against Wales kick them all out in the next election

A.Redman
A.Redman
24 days ago

Of course the “Six Nations Rugby”should be free to air.Not ALL Rugby fans in Wales ,Scotland and Ireland can afford to pay for Sky sports etc.🤬

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
24 days ago

What a surprise, he says with an air of sarcasm. Those alleged “Wales” Tory MPs who voted against the Labour/Paid amendment would likely be supporting England over Wales anyway they are so treacherous. Backstabbing bluebeards the lot of them! They care not for Wales or those longsuffering Welsh rugby fans who are not able to pay for an Amazon Prime accounts to watch pay-per-view Wales Six Nations matches that would be normally watched free-to-air on either on the BBC or S4C, especially the cost of living crisis and the neverending Conservative austerity measures. And it’s okay for those Tories voting… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
23 days ago

The take away party strikes again.

Riki
Riki
23 days ago

Well, Wales are historically the most successful six nations side (alongside England). So it stands to reason they’d be against it. If it shows Wales in a good light, then it needs to go according to the Tories.

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