BBC Trust publishes BBC submission to DCMS's review of listed events

Date: 30.07.2009     Last updated: 23.09.2014 at 09.48
The BBC Trust has today published the BBC's submission to the Government's review of the list of sports events that should remain free-to-air.

The submission consists of a covering note from the Trust setting out its views on the principle of a list and separately the BBC's substantive response including which sports should be included on that list.

BBC Trustee, David Liddiment said: "Major sports events reach out to the whole of society, regardless of age, background and ethnicity in a way that few other television programmes can. As audiences continue to fragment following digital switchover, the value to society of listing events will only increase. Because of this the Trust believes strongly that there should remain a list of free-to-air events.

"However the last review of the list was carried out before devolution. The BBC's Audience Councils input has highlighted the importance of particular sports in the nations, for example rugby in Wales and football in Scotland. We believe the listing criteria should be extended to better reflect the four nation's own sporting passions."

The Trust's covering note sets out its thinking on the principle of having a list, the criteria used in drawing up that list, and the competitive impact considerations the Trust has made. The proposed content of the list is a matter for the BBC Executive who will be responsible for broadcast coverage of these events. The Trust has not commented on the content of the list other than to satisfy itself that the BBC's approach to drawing up the list had been clear and consistent.

The main points of the Trust's covering note were:

The principle of having a list

  • The BBC's research shows that licence fee payers see major sporting events as creating value for society as a whole
  • Audiences believe these shared events can help create a feeling of national pride and contribute towards the nation's culture and therefore take on importance above and beyond a mere sporting contest
  • Audiences also feel that free-to-air events can help inspire interest in sport and have the potential to encourage participation
  • We feel this importance is only likely to increase as audiences fragment and the potential of non-sporting events for creating social capital through shared experiences declines.

The criteria for listing

Research shows that audiences:

  • Understand that sport can be important to society as a whole and not just to those who ordinarily follow the sport concerned
  • Appreciate the opportunity to see top events, especially those involving national teams or representatives
  • Value events that are a traditional part of their national culture.

For these reasons the Trust believes that the current criteria should be maintained.

The Trust also believes that the list should be extended to acknowledge the reality of a devolved UK. The BBC's Audience Councils have highlighted the special significance of certain events to particular nations and the Trust believes that the list should reflect the different interests of the nations.

Competitive impact

The Trust has commissioned an independent report by analysts Value Partners on the potential impact of listing on the broadcasting market and on rights holders. The report concluded that it is unlikely that listed events either have or will have a significant impact on the broadcasting market. It also concluded that the impact on rights holders is less clear cut and will depend on the particular sport in question. The Trust believes that a case-by-case approach to the competitive impact on different sports should be adopted.

Notes to editors

1. The Department of Culture, Media, and Sport is running the review, and has appointed a panel chaired by David Davies which is looking at the arrangements which seek to protect the free-to-air broadcasting of certain sporting events that are deemed to be of national importance. The current arrangements have been in force since the last review in 1998. For more information see:

The Trust has today published:

  • A covering paper from the BBC Trust
  • BBC Management's main submission and annex
  • Supporting research including audience research commissioned by BBC Management and a report on the market impact of listing commissioned by the BBC Trust.

These documents can be found here:

BBC submission to DCMS Review of Listed Events