Letter: TV sports coverage

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SPORT on television arouses strong emotions and the reaction of some to the publication of the Report of the Advisory Group on Listed Events, which I chaired, may have aroused unnecessary fears among sports lovers who are not subscribers to cable or

satellite channels (report, 21 March).

Before appointing the Advisory Group, the Secretary of State consulted widely on the criteria to be taken into account in deciding whether or not to list an event. In order to be eligible for listing, an event must meet the following main criterion:

the event has a special national resonance, not simply a significance to those who ordinarily follow the sport concerned; it is an event which serves to unite the nation; a shared point on the national calendar.

Test cricket, whatever its importance, can hardly be described as a shared point on the national calendar - it is virtually a shared summer - and it is difficult to apply different criteria to premier league football and Test cricket.

The B list actually creates much more protection for the average viewer than was previously available. I accept that secondary coverage - limited live coverage, delayed as-live transmission or edited highlights - is not as good as full live coveragebut it does represent a considerable improvement on the current position where, if an event is not listed, the non-satellite viewer is not guaranteed coverage.

Much greater protection will be afforded to the average viewer if the Secretary of State decides to endorse our recommendations.

Lord GORDON of Strathblane

House of Lords, London SW1