Television Coverage (Sports)

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1998.

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Photo of Mr Iain Coleman Mr Iain Coleman Labour, Hammersmith and Fulham 12:00 am, 14th December 1998

If he will make a statement on the current arrangements to protect the public's rights to watch major sporting events on free-to-air television. [62141]

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I have consulted widely on criteria to inform the listing process and reviewed the list earlier this year with the help of an independent advisory committee. I revised the list in June and it now gives the Independent Television Commission power to protect coverage of more events than ever before for the general viewer.

Photo of Mr Iain Coleman Mr Iain Coleman Labour, Hammersmith and Fulham

While I welcome my right hon. Friend's reply, bearing in mind the fact that in recent years the BBC has lost the right to cover, among other sports, rugby union internationals, motor racing Grand Prix and, most recently and most worryingly for some of us, test match cricket, what duties do public broadcasters have to ensure proper sports coverage on television?

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

It is part of the public service remit, in particular of the BBC but also of the other public service broadcasters, to ensure that sport plays a proper and major part in overall coverage and that the people of this country have a chance to see our best athletes, footballers and cricketers in operation. With that in mind, I take this opportunity to congratulate Michael Owen on becoming BBC "Sports Personality of the Year" and to wish him a happy 19th birthday today.