The UK media regime allowing sports fans to view major events on free-to-air services needs to be extended to the digital environment, ministers believe. But the UK government will not undertake a full review of the Listed Events Regime because it would disrupt the sports entertainment rights market and risk sport finances.
The current listed framework ‘was devised in a different media landscape’, the government said in its formal response to the inquiry report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into major sport and cultural events. ‘The consumption habits of viewers are changing rapidly so that broadcasters are now required to compete for rights with global media platforms.’
‘Although digital and on-demand rights have become an important element in the sale of sports rights, they are not covered by the Listed Events Regime. The Government wants to ensure that as viewing habits change and technology evolves, the objectives of the Listed Events Regime continue to be met in the future. We will therefore undertake a review to look at whether the scope of the Listed Events Regime should be extended to include digital rights.’
The DCMS committee inquiry report had stated: ‘The listed events regime is vital to the UK’s sporting and media landscape, amplifying major events and enabling the country to capitalise on its investment in them and their stars. As people’s consumption of media content changes, this crucial tool needs to be gold-plated for the future.’
It added: ‘The Government should review extending the protections currently offered under the listed events regime to digital and on-demand content. The Committee reiterates its view that sporting events which are a long-established centrepiece of our national sporting heritage, such as the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, should be added to the live listed events regime.’
But in its response, published (on 24/06/22), the government said it recently announced that the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the UEFA Women’s European Championship had been added to the list. ‘The Government recognises the importance of events of national significance being available to as wide an audience as possible, one of the key purposes of the Listed Events Regime.’
The response continues: ‘However, this must be carefully balanced with the ability of sporting organisations to generate revenues to invest in their sports at all levels. Broadcasting rights provide essential income, which enables sports national governing bodies to invest in better facilities for spectators, improve elite performance, hire the best coaches, and keep-up with mounting competition from rival sports and tournaments. The Government has no current plans to undertake a full review of the list, as we believe the current regime strikes an appropriate balance between retaining free-to-air sports events for the public while allowing rights holders to negotiate agreements in the best interests of their sport.’