Lords in new move on television sport

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The Independent Online
COLIN BROWN

The Government faces a fresh Lords defeat in a move by a cross-party group of peers to extend the ban on a broadcasting monopoly of national sporting events.

The former sports minister, Lord Howell, a Labour peer, is leading a move with Tory backbench support aimed at preventing BSkyB, part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, from gaining a monopoly on the broadcasting of golf, rugby and other big national occasions.

His amendment to the Broadcasting Bill in the Lords next Tuesday would ensure that if BSkyB bought the rights to the Ryder Cup, one of golf's premier tournaments, the rights to the highlights would have to be sold to a competitor, either the BBC or ITV. Other broadcasters would be allowed to buy the radio rights.

It follows the successful move, which saw the Government defeated in the Lords last month, to ban a broadcasting monopoly on eight national sporting events, including the Grand National, the FA Cup final and the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

The Government lost by 223 votes to 106 in the last clash over the issue, with 59 Tory peers rebelling. A similar number could rebel this time. Opponents of BSkyB's domination fear the BBC and ITV could be eliminated in the battle to screen top sport.

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