Ofcom Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events

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The Ofcom Code on Sports and Other Listed & Designated Events is a series of regulations issued originally by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) then by Ofcom when the latter assumed most of the ITC's responsibilities in 2003, which is designed to protect the availability of live coverage of so-called "listed events" in sport — typically major sporting occasions — on free-to-air terrestrial television in the United Kingdom.

The origins of the Code come from the Broadcasting Act 1996. Although the Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker, had devised a list of events not permitted to be broadcast solely on pay-per-view (PPV) services in 1991, the Act required the ITC to create a permanent list of such events. In 1997, the initial list was drawn up, and was revised in 1999, where the Code was divided into two categories, A and B. The Code was further amended in 2000 to give the ITC responsibility over UK-based broadcasters wanting to transmit listed events in other countries.

In July 2000, a British-based broadcaster, TV Danmark, challenged the ITC's decision to deny it the rights to five Danish World Cup qualifiers. After having the decision overturned on appeal, the ITC appealed to the House of Lords. The Lords found in favour of the ITC, and the decision was upheld.

Category A[edit]

Category A events are events which must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels, although PPV networks may share live coverage. As of 2000, these events are:[1]

Association football:

Horse racing:

Rugby league:

Rugby union:

Tennis:

Multi-sport events:

Category B[edit]

Category B events can be shown on PPV, provided sufficient secondary coverage (highlights, delayed broadcast, etc.) is made to free-to-air broadcasters. As of 2000, the events covered by this category are:[1]

Athletics:

Cricket:

Golf:

Rugby union:

Tennis:

  • Wimbledon Championships (excluding the finals)

Multi-sport events:

Home Test matches[edit]

The England cricket team's home Test matches were originally a Category A event. However, the England and Wales Cricket Board negotiated for it to be transferred to Category B and subsequently, and controversially, sold exclusive live broadcast rights for the 2006-09 home cricket seasons to Sky Sports.

BBC proposal[edit]

The BBC unveiled a proposed reordering of the list on 30 July 2009. Most notably, it would create a new category for events that would have to be aired live in their entirety on a free-to-air channel.[2]

List A1[edit]

Events that would have to be aired live in their entirety on a free-to-air channel:

Association football:

  • FIFA World Cup finals (all matches)
  • UEFA European Football Championship

Multi-sport events:

  • Summer and Winter Olympic Games

List A2[edit]

These events, generally seen as only important to one Home Nation, would have to be aired live in their entirety on a free-to-air channel in that nation only:

Association football:

  • FA Cup final (in England)
  • Scottish Cup final (in Scotland)
  • FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Football Championship qualifiers (in the respective nation)

Rugby union:

  • Wales Six Nations and internationals (in Wales)

Multi-sport events:

  • Commonwealth Games (in the respective nation)

List A3[edit]

This list's definition is identical to the current Category A. Free-to-air channels must air coverage, but it can be shared by subscription channels:

Cricket:

Horse racing:

  • Grand National
  • Epsom Derby

Rugby league:

  • Challenge Cup final

Rugby union:

  • Rugby World Cup final

Tennis:

  • Wimbledon Championships men's and women's finals

List B[edit]

These events may be shown on a subscription channel if highlights are made available to a free-to-air channel.

Cricket

  • World Cup (highlights of all games must be made available to the free channel)
  • ICC World Twenty20
  • England home Test matches

Golf:

  • The Open
  • Ryder Cup

Rugby union:

  • World Cup
  • Six Nations Championship (highlights of all games must be made available to the free channel)
  • British and Irish Lions tours

Tennis:

  • Wimbledon Championships

Women's sports:

Proposed revision[edit]

On 13 November 2009 a review panel proposed the following revised list and that the Category B list be scrapped. Under these proposals the Epsom Derby, Winter Olympics and Challenge Cup final would be removed from the list.[3]

Listed events[edit]

These events would have to be shown live in their entirety on UK-wide, free-to-air television, unless it is otherwise noted:

Association football:

  • FIFA World Cup finals
  • UEFA European Football Championship finals
  • FA Cup final (except Scotland)
  • Scottish Cup final (Scotland only)
  • All qualifiers for both the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship (matches involving the Home Nations are protected only in the countries that are participating)

Golf:

  • The Open

Horse racing:

  • Grand National

Rugby union:

  • World Cup
  • Six Nations Championship (only in Wales, and only for Wales matches)

Tennis:

  • Wimbledon Championships

Multi-sport events:

  • Summer Olympic Games

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events". Ofcom. March 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-01-25. 
  2. ^ "BBC proposes free-to-air increase". BBC News Online. 30 July 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-07-30. 
  3. ^ "David Davies publishes his review of free-to-air listed events". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 13 November 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-11-16.