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UK MPs demand rugby coverage answers

March 6, 2020

By Colin Mann

The UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has demanded an explanation over a bidding process for television rights for the Six Nations rugby tournament. It questions a decision to open up a bidding process to subscription providers which could result in the tournament disappearing from terrestrial television.

The Chairman of the Six Nations Council, John Jeffrey, has been asked to explain the timescale of the bidding process and how it operates. MPs also want clarification on reports that the BBC and ITV, current holders of television rights, would be barred from making a joint bid when that deal ends next year.

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: “It’s of huge concern to see there’s a bidding war that could take the Six Nations behind a paywall. Charging rugby fans to watch the tournament on TV would go against the spirit of broadcasting rules intended to ensure that sporting events like this are freely available to all. We’re demanding answers about the process and want reassurance about reports that suggest the favourite to win with a multi-million pound bid would take the Six Nations off terrestrial screens. We cannot allow this to be a deal done behind closed doors. Fans have a stake in this and a right to know what’s going on.”

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