The UK Culture Secretary, Nicky Morgan has pushed for the biggest events in women’s sport to become ‘listed events’ on free-to-air TV, so that mass audiences can watch them and be inspired by the achievements of our women sport stars. Morgan also encouraged public service and commercial broadcasters to do more to secure their future by working together and becoming as adaptable to change as international rivals such as Netflix and Amazon.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention 2019, in her first major speech as Culture Secretary, she confirmed she has written to TV rights holders to advocate adding major women’s sporting events to the ‘crown jewels’ list bringing parity with the men’s events on the list.
“A record-breaking 28.1 million people tuned into the Women’s World Cup,” she told delegates. “I want to build on this momentum and make sure future generations of female sporting talent can be inspired by who they see on their screens.”
“So today I can announce that I have written to the relevant rights holders to seek their views about adding women’s sporting events to the listed events regime.”
“So where a men’s event is listed, the women’s equivalent would be too. This would be an important step in giving female sporting talent the coverage they deserve and putting men’s and women’s sport on an equal footing at last.”
She called on Ofcom to “think big” in its upcoming review of public service broadcasting, saying that ambitious regulatory reform could be needed to reflect a changing sector. “New ways of producing and consuming content are emerging faster than ever before and people are watching what they want, when they want. No one can deny the benefits of an explosion of choice and a competitive market.”
“But British broadcasters are central pillars of our public life and their benefits are too great for them to be cast off as a victim of this revolution. We need to make sure that regulations – many of which were developed in the analogue age – are fit for the digital age and the new ways that people watch and produce shows.
“I want Ofcom’s upcoming review to help us consider how regulation can ensure our much loved public service broadcasters can continue to be the beating heart of our television landscape for years to come.”
Morgan also cautioned that the channels must be more creative and find new ways to thrive. “These organisations must be as fleet-footed and as adaptable to change as their international rivals. Those that do not pool their resources and talent will find it difficult to succeed in this new age.”
“It has been heartening to me to see our PSBs working together across traditional boundaries, including on exciting new platforms and content sharing deals. But our PSBs and commercial broadcasters must do more together when it comes to producing content, working with advertisers, and innovating to reach audiences of all ages,” she declared.