The BBC have just published their list of the proposed protected “free to air” sporting events, seen as invaluable in promoting sport in Britain and being accessible to the widest possible audience. Broadcast rights to several of these lie in the clutches of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports or elsewhere.
The BBC’s proposed list for protected free-to-air Rugby events (* denotes additions):
A1: UK conversation events (Live)
No rugby, it being stuff like the Olympics and Football World Cup
A2 List: Resonance in the Nations (Live in relevant nation)
Welsh rugby union Six nations and autumn internationals (Wales)*
A3 List: Pinnacle sports events (Live)
Rugby union World Cup final
B List: Events of UK importance (Highlights)
Rugby union World Cup
Six Nations rugby tournament (extended to all games*)
British and Irish Lions tour*
Why do only Wales get to have their Six Nations games protected as the highest priority? Removing Scotland’s games to ESPN Sports Extra 2 (highlights only, at half past midnight) will hardly help the cause of the game here. S4C seem to have enough cash to throw about on such things that Wales would probably get coverage anyway. I am pretty sure the Beeb recognises the Six Nations for the ratings winner it is and would fight to keep it, but still.
While the idea of the Lions being viewable to a largely ambivalent community outside the immediate rugby one fills me with joy, the idea of listening to Brian Moore commentating on it does not.
Full list of all events here.