WRU boss defends Amazon TV deal that took live coverage away from S4C
The boss of the Welsh Rugby Union has defended the TV deal that took live coverage of Wales’ autumn internationals away from S4C.
Chief Executive Steve Phillips was responding to questions from Senedd members matches being moved off free-to-air television and on to the paywall streaming service Amazon Prime Video.
Wales’ games in the last autumn’s Nations Cup series were also shown live by S4C after Amazon won the TV rights for ,
However, the tech giant is preventing S4C from broadcasting them live this time around, with the Welsh language broadcaster only transmitting highlights an hour after the final whistle.
Amazon has decided to offer its own Welsh language commentary in order to ensure that audiences in Wales pay to tune into their own service.
In an appearance in front of the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee, Phillips said: “There are two points here and there is a lot of commentary about it.
“There is the issue about the Welsh language and there is a different conversation, then, about free-to-air and pay TV. They are two separate questions.”
On the Amazon deal, he said: “It’s worth understanding that all international media rights are now sold as a collective via the Six Nations. So Wales don’t do it as a standalone item.
“While I can’t go into too much detail because of commercial considerations, we didn’t really have a comparable free-to-air offer.
“In Wales, rugby is absolutely part of our DNA and we are very conscious of the sport having to be accessible to all.
“The flip side of that is we are in a professional sport and, whether we like it or not, professional sport does get very expensive.
“The real point here is the way sport is going, it needs to be a mix of free-to-air and pay TV.”
‘Welsh language provision’
He added: “But we make it very clear to all our Six Nations partners and all our broadcasters that we require a Welsh language provision.
“We are very passionate about the Welsh language and it was a non-negotiable for us.
“If people are not doing the Welsh language, we are not signing up to the deal.
“We are very pleased that Amazon are taking that obligation on board by making a significant investment in creating a Welsh language channel so the matches will be broadcast in Welsh.
“I know S4C were in conversations with Amazon about how they could work together and they have ended up with an extended highlights package after the match, which I think is fine.
“We are very tight with S4C and they are great partners of ours.
“They have got an extended involvement in the United Rugby Championship and we work very closely with them. There is always going to be a place for S4C.”
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