Sports bodies make free-to-air pledge

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Eight of the UK’s best known sporting bodies, including the Football Association (FA) and Premier League, have banded together and pledged to keep their main events on free-to-air TV according a new voluntary code of conduct. The code’s signatories, organised by the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR), also include the governing bodies from athletics, cricket, football, golf, rugby league and tennis.

The announcement comes only one day after the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) announced that ex-FA chief David Davies would lead it’s ‘crown jewels’ review panel which includes a mix of ex-sports stars, academics, journalists, and business people.

The ‘crown jewels’ are the major sporting events which have to be broadcast live on free-to-air TV. In football this covers the World Cup and European Championship Finals, along with the English and Scottish Cup Finals in their respective countries. The Ashes, the rugby Six Nations and Ryder Cup golf, surprisingly, fall outside the ‘crown jewels’ A-List, although highlights do have to be made available, as they are on the B-List.

If your head hurts after all that, you’re probably not alone. While the CCPR code does no harm, it is merely a voluntary one. There will also be discussion on what constitutes ‘keeping events on terrestrial TV’. The definition doesn’t cover live games, as the Premier League and cricket’s Ashes are available through highlights only, and football’s authorities were always unlikely to risk the game’s cultural dominance by taking it away from the BBC or ITV altogether.

Leaving most football fans thinking, that’s all well and good, but what does it actually mean?