BBC want free-to-air qualifiers

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The Independent Online

The BBC has called for the qualifying matches for football's World Cup and European Championship to become listed events - reserved for free-to-air TV - in all four home nations.

In their submission to the Government's review of listed events, the BBC has called for the current list to be expanded to include the qualifiers - but not Test cricket.

The broadcaster also believes that in Wales the Six Nations and autumn rugby internationals involving Wales should also be on the list of protected events.

The BBC's submission, published today, says the importance of having major sports events protected is vital.

It says: "Imagine the 2018 World Cup being hosted in England and the whole tournament not being available to the entire UK population. Imagine the London 2012 Olympics restricted to pay-TV."

It goes on: "We suggest the advisory panel considers adding to the A List...the live nations' home and away qualifiers for the World Cup and European Championship (in each nation). We feel this strikes a balance between public sentiment and market impact."

The BBC also suggests the list should reflect the importance of particular sporting events in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In terms of Test cricket, the corporation says that there is a "clear public value" in re-listing some England home matches such as the Ashes but accepts that would be "difficult and complex" and instead suggests the Cricket World Cup final and World Twenty20 final be listed instead.

The BBC argues that reserving certain major sporting events for free-to-air television benefits society as whole.

Their submission adds: "It reaches not only sports fans but also those who value watching the biggest events but would not necessarily be willing or able to pay to access sport on pay-TV.

"Aside from the social and cultural consequences of eroding universal access to sporting events of national resonance, who would gain?

"It is not clear, for example, that delisting the whole or parts of the major international tournaments such as the Olympics or football World Cup would lead to a significant increase in investment in UK sport.

"Moreover, it is unlikely that any such benefits would outweigh the significant disbenefit of denying large sections of the UK public access."

The BBC's proposed list is:

A1 List: UK Conversation Events (Live)

Winter and Summer Olympics Games

FIFA World Cup

UEFA European Football Championship

A2 List: Resonance in the Nations (Live in Relevant Nation)

FA Cup final

Scottish Cup final (Scotland)

Football international qualifiers home and away (respective home nations)

Commonwealth Games

Welsh Rugby Union Six Nations and autumn internationals (Wales)

A3 List: Pinnacle Sport Events (Live)

Wimbledon men and women's finals

Rugby World Cup final

Rugby League Challenge Cup final

Cricket World Cup final

Twenty20 World Cup final

Grand National

The Derby

B List: Events of a UK Importance (Highlights)

Wimbledon Championships

Rugby World Cup

Cricket World Cup

Twenty20 World Cup

Six Nations

Open Golf Championship

Ryder Cup

England cricket home Tests

British and Irish Lions Tour

Women's football World Cup/European Championship/ICC Cricket World Cup Finals involving home nations' teams