Six Nations: Tournament could go behind paywall from 2022

Ireland's Tadgh Furlong
The Six Nations has been on free-to-air TV since 2003.

The government has rejected the chance to ensure the Six Nations remains only on free-to-air TV by turning down a call to include the tournament as a category A-listed sporting event.

BBC and ITV currently share coverage under a deal that runs until 2021 and have made another joint bid for coverage from 2022.

However, the Six Nations will remain a category B tournament, meaning live coverage can go behind a paywall provided highlights or a delayed broadcast are shown on terrestrial TV.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee chair Julian Knight described the decision as "a missed opportunity".

"It would have given fans hope for the future to see a national event that brings people together was being protected for all," he said.

"That's a message that becomes even more important in a time like this."

England's home games were on Sky from 1997 to 2002, after which all Six Nations games have been free-to-air.

Current category A events, which must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels, include the rugby union World Cup final, the football World Cup, Wimbledon, the Grand National and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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