Westminster seeks explanation from Six Nations over broadcast plans

Westminster seeks explanation from Six Nations bosses over plans to move tournament to Sky in next TV deal

  • Six Nations bosses considering Sky move that would make tournament paid-for
  • Westminster has expressed ‘great concern’ over the ramifications of any deal 
  • Former England skipper Martin Johnson has also argued against a pay wall
  • Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee want assurances from organisers 

The Six Nations hierarchy have been ordered to provide urgent assurances about plans for its next TV rights deal, amid ‘great concern’ at Westminster that the tournament will go behind a paywall after next year.

It was reported by the Rugby Paper last week that Sky are favourites to secure rights to broadcast the annual championship from 2022, prompting a furious reaction about the event being lost to terrestrial viewers. 

World Cup-winning former England captain Martin Johnson argued vehemently in these pages that such a step would be ‘disastrous’ for the sport.

Sky could win Six Nations rights from 2022 that would put tournament behind paywall

Yesterday, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) at the House of Commons announced that a letter had been sent to Six Nations chairman John Jeffrey and the chief executives of the English, Welsh and Scottish unions – Bill Sweeney, Martyn Phillips and Mark Dodson. 

It has given them until Thursday to respond to a series of questions about the next rights deal.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Julian Knight has questioned the move

Julian Knight MP, the chairman of DCMS, has asked for clarification about the bidding process and timetable, and a response to reports that a joint bid by current rights-holders BBC and ITV would not be permitted. 

He also demanded that officials confirm if Sky are favourites, if there have been discussions about making the Six Nations a Category A sporting event – guaranteed to be available on free-to-air channels – and if private equity firm CVC will be buying a stake in the competition, as is anticipated.

Finally, DCMS have asked for an explanation of the projected impact if the Six Nations were to go behind a television paywall.


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