Free-to-air Broadcasting (Major Events)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 19 June 2013.

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Photo of John Pentland John Pentland Labour

5. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking regarding the free-to-air broadcasting of major events. (S4O-02276)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has consistently argued that major events of national interest to Scotland must be made available live on free-to-air television.

The Scottish Government and its partners in delivering the Ryder cup at Gleneagles and the Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014 will play a major role in staging two of the world’s greatest events here in Scotland, with guaranteed highlights on free-to-air terrestrial television.

Photo of John Pentland John Pentland Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer but, given her recent euphoric announcement that in the land of milk and honey all Scotland football matches would be on free-to-air television, has she considered the cost, contacted the national football authorities and UEFA, and sought legal advice regarding existing contracts and European Union directives? Or is this another case of ministers making assertions rather than seeking assurances?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Dear, oh dear—how sad. I thought that the fact that people in Scotland want to see their national team playing is something that we would want to support.

I am fully aware of responsibilities in relation to contracts. The member will be aware that the Scottish Football Association has just announced a deal for rights for the period 2014 to 2018. We have already made clear in other areas of broadcasting our intention to honour existing contracts. However, when those contracts come up for renewal at a future point—post 2018—we would obviously look at the market conditions and have discussions on opportunities with the relevant sports bodies at that time.

I have heard glass-half-full arguments, but Mr Pentland seems to take a glass-half-empty approach to the opportunities for the young people of Scotland to benefit from watching their national team. I think that we should all get behind the Scottish team, particularly following its great result recently against Croatia.